Eija-Liisa Ahtila ::
CONSOLATION SERVICE, 1999

35mm film and DVD-installation for two projections
24 min, sound
Collection Chara Schreyer, Tiburon, CA
courtesy Thea Westreich Art Advisory Services, New York

written and directed by Eija-Liisa Ahtila
(c) & produced by Crystal Eye Ltd, Helsinki

    Consolation Service follows a young finnish couple, Anni and J-P, as they make public their decision to divorce. It is set in early spring in Helsinki, with its frozen landscape on the cusp of thawing.

Narrated in a voice-over by the couple's neighbour, the work presents three dramatic moments in this process: It begins with Anni and J-P's session with their therapist giving them advice on how to come to terms with the end of their relationship, followed by the couple celebrating J-P’s birthday with their friends that ends with the whole group drowning in a frozen lake on their way to the birthday dinner. At this moment, camera angle and perspective change to parallel the shift of the narrative. An underwater monologue contemplates the past and death. The film concludes in a »consolation service«– a final relinquishing of the relationship.

The narrative combines documentary realism and cinematic invention and is fragmented between two adjacent screens, allowing a dichotomized point of view on a single scene while inviting us to see beyond the illusion of fiction.

[The film starts at each hour and a half.]