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Donna Criminale
Ulla Karttunen Donna Criminale (Firenze 2016)

donna criminale

is an ephemeral sculpture made from a material regarded as the most banal and worthless, toilet paper. This hanged goddess is a patron saint of those who are thought to be low or marginal, the wrong kind of people. The work deals with social inequality and censorship in contemporary market-based society.


The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has noted that in contemporary consumer society, we have begun to see the poor, those who cannot participate enough in consuming, as criminals. – At least, the ’low’ workers in white gowns, from nurses to cleaning women, are often treated degradingly, as cheaper than toilet paper.


The title comes from the criminologist Cesare Lombroso, who saw that some people can be born as criminals. This thought of certain inferior groups of humans could be later found in the Third Reich: those interpreted as being lower were gathered to be eliminated. A similar belief that certain people are higher and better, can be alive also in contemporary democratic society.


The work is also based on a real story from Finland: in an art censorship case, a leader tried to ban critical art, telling that an artist must be a swindler, because dressed in white. Only criminals wear white.


The ambiguous figure ­– at the same time minimalistic and baroque, poor and glamorous – has opened various interpretations. It has been shown in different kinds of places from an industrial art center to a white-wall gallery, from a Portuguese church to a princess’s throne in the National Museum of Algeria. For spectators, it is not obligatory to know theoretical framework, they can just enjoy the sublimity revealed amidst the commonplace. 

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