Riikka Hyvönen, Roller Derby Kisses

Riikka Hyvönen,
<gasp> Oh Lord. Is That the One That Looks Suspiciously Like My Wheel?!
God, I’m Sorry To Have Marked You So :( … Um, Think Of It As A Love Bite?
Acrylic paint on leather and MDF, 72 x 110cm

LondonArt & Culture

Kiss My Ass

Riikka Hyvönen shows there's a tender side to the hardcore sport of roller derby...

When girls first start rollerskating, they naturally spend quite a bit of time falling over and hurting themselves. Those with the fortitude to persevere get better and stop falling over and hurting themselves. Then, if they get really good, they join roller derby teams, and start hurting each other. If roller derby has passed you by, you won’t be aware of how hardcore the sport is (check out the frenetic Drew Barrymore-directed film Whip It from 2009 for a crash course), but the roller derby girls don’t mess about, and injuries can be pretty nasty.

As well as being body-slammed into the barrier at breakneck speed, there’s the ever-present possibility, nay certainty, of hitting the unforgiving rink arse-first. The resulting bruises are known by the sweet nickname “kisses”, worn as a badge of honour by the tough gals who play. As artist Riikka Hyvönen explains, roller derby requires a lot of physical strength, a pair of muscular buttocks is a distinct advantage, and you’re not playing properly if you don’t end up with a brightly-coloured, hand-sized lesion by the end of the game. London-based, Lapland-born Hyvönen has documented these injuries for a collection of large-scale artworks on display at The Finnish Institute in London.

Roller Derby Kisses lies somewhere between painting and sculpture, beginning with a documentary photograph which the artist re-renders in 3D on canvas with the addition of fabric and glitter. The works are a celebration of the players’ bravery, and also convey the kitsch, glam spangle and knowing self-objectification of the sport. The paintings’ titles are taken from comments that the players posted under photos shared on the internet. The exhibition will continue until 23 July — check for viewing availability.


Riikka Hyvönen — Roller Derby Kisses

Riikka Hyvönen

Riikka Hyvönen — Roller Derby Kisses

Riikka Hyvönen,
A Little Scratch Developed into This Mother F**ker!, 2015
Acrylic on leather and MDF, 90 x 90

Riikka Hyvönen — Roller Derby Kisses

Riikka Hyvönen,
Wait Long Enough And Someone Will Find A Picture Of Jesus in That Bruise!, 2014
Oil on canvas, 175cm x 125cm

Riikka Hyvönen — Roller Derby Kisses

Riikka Hyvönen,
I Got a Really Beautiful Bruise on My Bum, Do You Want To See a Pic?
It Has 12 Colours And Is the Size of My Head!, 2015
Acrylic on leather and MDF, 100 x 150cm

Riikka Hyvönen — Roller Derby Kisses

Riikka Hyvönen,
Fresh Meat in Fishnets!, 2015
Acrylic paint and glitter on leather and MDF, 210 x 220cm


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