Tonttukirkko by Gary Budden

 -Reviewed by Sarah Gonnet

Tonttukirkko is a pamphlet that shows its vision of the world in fractured dots and letters; almost like a Yayoi Kusama painting. Gary Budden uses a splintered image, one which is hard to make out as the pixels within it have been made huge and unwieldy. Even though it is a piece of manipulated photography, looking at it for a long time brings the name of another painter to mind: Roy Lichtenstein.


The image appears to, from various angles, show a crucifix, a waterfall and a bench. Yet besides these marked areas, the image seems to whisper further symbols which also project a message about the undecipherable ways of nature. It also seems to be saying that the undecipherable ways of nature are only comparable to the undecipherable ways of religion; hence the cross amongst a natural environment. The photo binds these two themes together by presenting them in one (albeit fairly confusing) picture.

The photograph discussed so far, folds up like a map. Turning it over reveals a reverse covered in the written word. The words on the back reflect the complexity of the image. They also conjure up themes of nature and make indiscriminate references to religions. The written piece flits through further themes of zen (‘I feel fucking zen’); imagination and how images are converted into words.

Despite explicitly linking words to images, Budden’s actual words couldn’t be more opposed to his photography. The attitudes of the image and the words clash in a major way. However this adds another level to what they ultimately mean. There are vague themes about the transient nature of life present; and others on how art in the form of writing or photography can provide permanence and meaning in a transient world.

Once you have finished reading Budden’s words, there is an irresistible urge to turn the paper back over and look at the photograph again. Now that you have read Budden’s words you see that the image isn’t explained by the words, but it is emphasised by them. The image has transformed into something with the depth of a thick atmosphere.

Overall this little pamphlet-come-leaflet is a beautiful object that you could easily keep in your back pocket. Perhaps keeping it there will give you something to look at in times when you feel life (or art) is pointless. It could also serve as a reminder about the connection between the two.