Art Features

The Lusto Museum in Punkaharju

In 1843, the Punkaharju State Forest was established and in 1990 the ridge was declared a protected area, with the approval of the Act founding the Punkaharju nature conservation area.

It’s not surprising, then, that the Finnish Forest Museum, Lusto, is located right here. The museum, opened to the public in June 1994, is entirely devoted to illustrate the Finnish forests, their importance and the interaction and relationships between Finns and their forests.

The museum is shaped in such a way as to remind a tree section, and a few huge windows allow the visitor to have a glimpse of the beautiful landscape. Inside, the basic permanent exhibition ‘Discovering the forest’ shows how the Finns have lived off the forests over the centuries. A whole section is devoted to log floating, which in the 1920s and '30s gave work to almost 100,000 men –even though only for a few weeks. Old photographs and a display of the tools used by log floaters help to understand the harshness of the work.

Lusto museum

Another interesting section deals with popular beliefs. For centuries, forests, in addition to supporting people with food, heating and even clothes, were believed to host many kinds of magical creatures, sometimes evil, sometimes helpful. In this section a karsikko is on display. In Finnish folklore a karsikko is a conifer tree with some branches cut off in memory of a special occasion or event. Often the date of the event and the initials of the people involved were carved on the tree. The karsikko on display comes from Lapland where it was grew from the 15th century to 1940.

Beside 'Discovering the forest' other temporary exhibitions are organized every year. This year, starting from April 27th, ‘Finn horse – work horse’ will celebrate the 100th birthday of the Finnish horse. On June 15th and 16th the Forest Culture Days will take place, with competitions in logging and log floating, work demonstrations, hands-on workshops, concerts, theatre performances, presentations and information sessions.

Lusto, The Finnish Forest Museum, Lustontie 1, 58450 Punkaharju

Art Features

The Year of South Korea

Since 1997 the festival has been exploring different Asian cultures: from Indonesia to China, to India and –last year– the countries hit by the 2005 tsunami.
Asia in Helsinki is the only Finnish festival devoted to Asia, and the organizers put a great deal of effort into selecting the themes and the performers. “We tend to choose according to first-hand knowledge, groups and performers we have already seen in action,” says the festival's Managing Director Veli Rosenberg.

The festival usually focuses on performing arts, such as ballet, drama and music, but thanks to collaboration with the Museum of Cultures exhibitions relevant to the festival's theme are being organized every year. This year is the turn of ‘Korean home – the way of living’ open till the end of December 2007.
Two are the 2007 festival highlights, according to Rosenberg: Hee Dong, a group of ten Buddhist monks and nuns performing ritual dances, which has been highly praised in Europe and the States. And the NOW dance company, led by young choreographer Sohn In-young, and their merging of traditional dances with contemporaries choreographies.


South Korea has been chosen for having been a cultural bridge between China and Japan for centuries, a place where it is still possible to find dance forms already vanished in the other two countries. The roots of South Korean culture are in shamanism and that will be reflected in the performances of the artists present at the festival.

“The festival’s aim is not so much to attract huge audiences,” Rosenberg states, “it is rather to offer interesting performances and an opportunity to get to know also the background. Before the show, the public can hear an introduction about the art and the artists, so they are given a context, a background in which to set the performance.”

The venue has always been the Aleksanterin Teatteri – the former Helsinki Opera Theatre. “That is the perfect venue for the festival," says Rosenberg, "it has 450 seats, with wonderful acoustics. Performers don’t need to use microphones most of the time. And it’s an intimate and beautiful theatre.”

Asia in Helsinki – Aasia Helsingissä, Helsinki Aleksanterin teatteri, 3rd-5th May 2007
For further details and the program: 

Art Exhibitions

The age of the animal in Ateneum

The works
are by almost two hundred artists, mostly Finnish ones. The pieces, from the
16th century up to the present, have mainly been provided by the Finnish
National Gallery.

The various
themes in the exhibition illustrate how the roles of animals have changed over
the centuries. Pay special attention to Gallen Kallela’s and Ferdinand
von Wright
’s paintings.

{mosimage}There is
also a special display created for children by the students from the University of Art and Design, called In a Magical
. Here parents can find many animal books as well, if they want to
tell stories to their children.

But the
exhibition has also a dark side, such as the sinister works of Juhani Harri:
in his Andalusian Dog, for example, dead animals and objects melt into a
unique and ambiguous new shape.








Art Features

The survival of the littlest

Pekka Jylhä, who made
his debut in Vaasa 1984, is one of the most important Finnish sculptors. In
addition to several exhibitions, he has become known through his many public
art works. One of them is Spring (Lähde), a monument built in memory of
the late president Urho Kekkonen, was unveiled in Hakasalmi park,
Helsinki in 2000.

The current exhibition
presents mainly works from the new millennium, but also some older pieces, and a
book on Jylhä's art has been recently published by Parvs Publishing.
For Jylhä himself, the exhibition is about looking back on what has been done.

"I am not sure
whether this is the end of something, or the start of something new",
Jylhä states. "My works are always taking me in unknown directions. It is
like I am in the middle of a stream and I just have to let it take me where it
wants to go."

One of the central
themes of the exhibition is the collision between human beings and nature. A
sadly literal example is the piece Revelation (Ilmestys, 2000),
which presents a golden deer situated on a cliff beside a motorway.  Clear conscience (Puhdas omatunto,
2007) shows another way people today are used to confronting animals: as
objectified goods. This piece brings together an expensive looking crystal
chain and economically worthless bunny. The financially oriented world
suffocates the bunny, conquers its living environment.

The white bunny is a
recurrent element in Jylhä's art works and it seems to speak strongly to many
viewers. Perhaps it reminds us of the vulnerability of  people as well.

“The only means for the
bunny to survive in this hard world, is being scared and staying on guard all
the time”, Jylhä says.

{mosimage}In many works the bunny
confronts big questions, but it always stays faithful to who it is: a timid
little creature, willing to understand and do its best. Perhaps the most
impressive piece with the white bunny, Lantern bearer (Lyhdyn kantaja,
1999-2000), occupies a whole room. The little bunny stands lit in the middle of
a dark room holding a mirror ball that reflects a rotating night sky. The
innocent little animal is holding an entire world on top of its nose, but it is
proud and confident.

Jylhä explains that
through his works he tries to tell stories that have touched him. The
autobiographical content has an important role in his work. The small rocking
chair, This side that side (Täällä puolen tuolla puolen,
1994), is based on a childhood experience: the nine-year-old Pekka Jylhä found
his mother dead in a similar chair.

“I was the first to
arrive and the chair was still gently rocking”, he states. “I wanted to make a
rocking chair that would never come to a halt.”

This side that side, with its everlasting movement, reminds us of
the preserving qualities of art, which become important in many artists' work.
For example, the most famous Shakespeare sonnet, Shall I compare thee to a
Summers day, is about the fading beauty of the beloved, which only the
eternal lines of a poem can preserve. Jylhä however, has a more humble view on
the matter:

"In this world,
nothing that was made by man is permanent, and that is probably for the
best", he concludes.

Jylhä continues by saying
that the autobiographical elements are a way of returning to experiences that
may have been forgotten, but are still present in him, and may even have been passed
on to his children.

Many of the works deal
with the big questions of life and in some instances, even give an impression
of a religious atmosphere. According to Jylhä, a lot of this experience is due
to the materials he uses:

“I try to use materials
that are pure and therefore naturally reveal a sacral impression. The symbolism
that comes with the materials is very central in my works.”

The choice of materials
such as water, crystal and stuffed animals; the use of light, living fire and the
colour white, create a very northern atmosphere. Walking in the museum feels
like walking in a wintry Finnish forest: ice and snow sparkling like diamonds
in the pale light of a frosty winter day. For a Finn the forest is like a
church: a peaceful and holy environment. Through Pekka Jylhä's work, the
peaceful harmony of the forest is passed on to the museum space.

Art Exhibitions

Sleeping beauty and other stories

There couldn’t be better words to describe
the pictures in the Sleeping Beauty
section of Jaana Partanen’s exhibition Arjen alkemiaa (Everyday Alchemy)
currently at the Finnish
Museum of Photography. A
bunch of old ladies framed in silver, against a silver background, are holding
glasses of wine or laundry baskets and leaning against a rollaattori– this very
Finnish ‘institution’ for old age – smiling and laughing or playing with a lot
of arms and a lot of hearts The silver backgrounds and frames turn the ladies
into goddesses of the third-age: but oh, so wonderfully ordinary. Looking at
these pictures you just can’t help thinking that beauty is not just a matter of
being young!

Sleeping beauty, the Real Princess and
is the title of the trilogy Partanen had been working on since
2001 and finished just before this exhibition: now it is being shown for the
first time.

{mosimage}If Sleeping Beauty deals with old
age, then the Real Princess investigates, in a touching and unconventional
way, the relationship between mothers and teenage daughters. In the photographs
taken underwater – and the accompanying video – the dance-like quality of the
movements of the mothers and daughters graphically describes the difficulties
mothers experience in letting their daughters go; and the conflicting attitudes
of the daughters: ready to state their independence and yet still in need of
their mothers’ hugs.

Fatherhood, family life and birth are
investigated in the section of the exhibition called Cinderella. Here the
focus also seems to be on fathers and the active role they are increasingly
taking in the family. In Partanen’s works, family life is made up of close relationships
and moments so precious – even if it is just washing dishes – that they deserve
gilded backgrounds.

The trilogy also includes three video works (Once Again, Crystal City
and Bubbles
) which deal with
issues of deconstruction and rebuilding. Visitors can make a contribution to
the issue: an installation, right at the entrance of the exhibition area,
allows them to move simple gilded forms, thus changing and reshaping them into
new landscapes.

will be on display until the 5th of May. A
visit is highly recommended.

Jaana Partanen – Arjen alkemiaa (Everyday

Finnish Museum of Photography – Cable Factory, Tallberginkatu 1 G Helsinki

Art Features

An easterly breeze hits Kiasma

Along with China's economic miracle and recent
development in the region as a whole, Asian contemporary art is on the rise as
well. Biennials and art festivals are numerous and ever growing and there's
increasing international interest – enough to constitute something of a boom in
Asian contemporary art. Kiasma's exhibition brings an interesting selection of
works to Helsinki.
”The purpose of this exhibition is not to cover the whole field of contemporary
art in Asia, but rather to present visitors with perspectives on it”, says
senior curator Marja Sakari from




three countries represented in the exhibition are quite different, but they
also share several characteristics, such as mounting pressure for change, vast
population, political conflicts and natural disasters, which cause these
societies to be in a constant state of transformation. There are questions of
how an individual fits into the larger scheme of things. All this in turn is
reflected in the artists' interpretation of their surrounding reality”, Sakari
tells us. Also in common are powerful traditions. Beneath contemporary
political and social preoccupations with global consumer culture and
modernisation, traditional culture and spirituality are present in many of the
works displayed.

a swiftly growing urban expanse afflicted by an enormous population and a
building frenzy which leaves little trace of the city's vernacular history, is
home to two of the artists. Photographer Hu Yang lets us peek inside Shanghai households in
his photo series Shanghai Living,
which features ordinary Shanghainese from all walks of life photographed in
their living spaces with a short interview attached. The series offers a
compelling inside view of the human consequences of recent development in the
city's infrastructure and social fabric. Also hailing from Shanghai is Yang Zhenzhong, who represents a
new generation of Chinese artists who've grown up during China's open
door policy and economic prosperity and are well acquainted with new media and

colonial past and history of 
authoritarian regimes is reflected in works by Yogyakartan artists Heri
Dono and Eko Nugroho, who deal with issues of political pressure and social
control with equally playful yet ambiguous ways. Since the fall of Suharto in
1998 there have been significant changes in Indonesia's political system but
images of oppression and blind faith in authorities are nevertheless vivid in
their art. Many of Dono's installations include puppet-like sculptures with
some robotic features producing sound and movement. The complex installation Political clowns represents his brand of
satire: a series of clown-faces with tubes drip-feeding urine to their heads.

of the most puzzling and fascinating works are by Chinese artist Chen Zhen, who
died in 2000. Zhen moved to Paris
in 1986 and made most of his career in the west. Many of his works contemplate
on broad humanistic themes, but also on Asian art as part of the whole
international sphere of contemporary art. In fact, all the participating
artists are to some degree integrated into the international art world, but
mostly maintain focus on their local Asian realities and often draw on
traditional art forms. The surging popularity of Asian artists calls to
question our entrenched notions of the centre and periphery of contemporary art
in a most welcome manner.


The exhibition Wind from the East – Perspectives on Asian Contemporary Art opens
Feb 17 at Kiasma museum of contemporary art.

Art Interviews

Interview with Eko Nugroho

Your home city Yogyakarta is said to have a
thriving contemporary art scene beyond any other city in Indonesia. What makes
it so special?

A number of
reasons. The Indonesian Art Institute is in Yogyakarta, and so many artists
come there to study. There's a lot of history there, a lot of culture and
tradition and people appreciate art more. Generally the atmosphere is really
creative. There's a lot of public art on the streets. Not just graffiti and
tags et cetera, but also plenty of legal street art, all kinds of different

Is that how you got started, doing street art?

Yes. When I
was growing up there were graffiti groups and street artists in Yogyakarta who
were sort of competing with each other. Some were graffiti kings, you know,
interested in spray-paint, tags and slogans. But the group I ran with was into
more visual and artistic expression. I like to do art in public, for people to
experience outside the museums and galleries. Also the murals, I like to do
them in public and invite people to watch and participate. I did one in Berlin,
which was really lovely, they gave me a big building neighboured by graffiti

You're painting a mural here in Kiasma. What's
the main idea behind this one?

It's called
Pleasure under pressure, it's about
how living in Indonesia you're are always surrounded by political things; even
if you don't choose political subjects, the media and everyday life are
constantly full of politics. It's about the political situation in Indonesia,
but it's not attacking things directly. It's softly critical, for people to
recognise what's happening around them.

{mosimage}Is it hard to be an openly political artist in

political situation is changing all the time, mostly for the better, but after
the previous regime people want things to get better fast. And a lot of things
still remain, corruption and political power centres. The people are really
politically active, calling out for things and being vocal with their opinions.
For artists, however, open criticism that's too direct is not permitted. You
know 70% of the people are Muslim and some of them want an Islamic state, but
not everyone is happy with that. There's a lot of tension between politics,
society and culture.

Can you tell us a little about your work with

I do some
comics on my own but mainly I work with a collective called Daging Tumbuh (Diseased Tumour). We
compile art from contributors: comics, illustrations et cetera, all
photocopied. Ordinary people can write or paint about their personal things and
so on. Every six months we publish a new issue, only 150 copies or so, which is
circulated from hand to hand on the streets.

Sounds very underground. You're also connected
to the world of institutionalised art, museums and galleries. Do you think it's
important to keep in touch with the underground?

There's a
lot you can do only in the underground, like criticise certain things in
society. In Indonesia the political situation is getting better, but there's
still a lot of narrow-mindedness and social pressure, and that's exactly what
I'm critical of in my work. Also, I like to be in contact and communicate with
people, hear their stories and experiences.

Some of your works include embroidery. How did
you get interested in that?

Some time
in 1999 there were a lot of social problems with urban youths and they formed
street gangs. It was a part of their fashion to have a cool embroidery on the
back of their leatherjackets. The gangs vanished after 2000, but they inspired
me because in their way they were rebelling against the system. Later I found a
small town in Java called Tasikmalaya, which was famous for embroideries, and I
studied it there myself. Nowadays I have skilled craftsmen do most of the big
ones for me based on my design.

Art Features

Museum of Gallen-Kallela

{mosimage}The floor
in the main atelier is made of tarred wooden blocks, a durable style imitated
from factories. In the glass vitrines by the wall there is a collection of old
oil paint tubes and brushes. Gallen-Kallela wanted the windows in the ceiling of
his atelier to point to the north, in order to lay a perfect indirect light for
painting all day long. When climbing up the staircase to the tower, and passing
by the bathroom with windows, you can imagine how the family members would
observe the atelier while having a bath.

adventurous and cosmopolitan artist, Akseli Gallen-Kallela felt at home
everywhere. He lived and worked in Paris, North America and east Africa. He
loved his home country deeply, and explored the roots of Finnish mythology during
long trips in Karelia. He constantly searched
for something genuine and exciting; native Indians in North America, and
kikujus in the present day Kenya. Thus he is often defined as a ´national
cosmopolite´. For Finns, he is most known as the illustrator of the characters
in Kalevala, the Finnish National Epic.

artist was an important influencer during the ‘Golden Era of Finnish Art’
between 1880-1910, along with Albert Edelfelt and Helene Schjerfbeck, amongs
others. During these Golden years, the ruling art tendencies were realism,
symbolism and above all national romance, as a result of the Finnish national
spirit raising its head before the independence.

Not only
a painter, Gallen-Kallela was also known for his graphics and furniture design
skills. For the World’s Fair in Paris in 1900 he had designed most of the
furniture and textiles for the Finnish pavilion, for which he was awarded and recognised
internationally. The fair is considered to be the first occasion when such a concept
as Finnish design was launched.

many of Gallen-Kallela’s privately-owned paintings and the treasure-like
material he brought back from his trips are exhibited in the museum. Currently,
the museum hosts an exhibition of expressionist art entitled ‘Wound’ which is
on display until the 20th of May. Many of the pieces of art are created by
contemporary Finnish artists, such as Elina Merenmies or Mari Sunna. This
exhibition focuses on the personal and subjective experiences of the self, an
exposition concept envisioned by the painter Henry Wuorila-Stenberg.

After the
tour in the museum you can sip a coffee in the original Finnish wooden villa,
where the artist and his family used to live before building the stone castle
next to it.


Art Exhibitions

Migrant artists at the crossroad

{mosimage}Amir Khatib explains that the
network was born with the goal of helping the artists that are in the crossroads
of the third culture. “It was born of a personal need”, he says. Indeed, he arrived
in 1990 as refugee from Pakistan where he was a street painter. Since his
arrival, Khatib has used the concept of third culture to explain his production
in Finland:
“It is not a purely Iraqi production, but not pure Finnish either; of course it
is related to both cultures, but it is none of them in a pure shape”. He adds
that the network has been a good help to make his living as an artist. Although
Khatib still does some work as a freelance journalist. “Writing is like
handicraft for me”, he admits. “It is a question of food. It’s better than
working in a pizza kebab”.

The Third Culture exhibition will be the work of 23 artists from five
European Union countries and twelve different nationalities. This event will be
remembered and a catalogue which includes articles written by art critics, Taava Koskinen, Otso Kantakorpi, Ali Najjar
and Farounk Yousif.

EU-MAN helps organise large- and
small-scale exhibitions. At the moment it counts more than 200 members in 13
different countries. About 60 of them live and work in Finland. It also
publishes the quarterly magazine Universal


The Third Culture, Puristamo, Cable
Factory, Helsinki.

From 1.3 to 18.3 2007

Art Exhibitions

In search of identity

The works are not arranged
chronologically but thematically, according to the most recurring subjects in
the collection. Thereby, the visitor becomes acquainted with pastoral
landscapes, descriptions of Finnish nature in different seasons, as well as
intimate portraits.

According to Turku
Art Museum’s curator Christian
, the depiction of Finnish nature in landscape paintings was a linchpin
in the search of the Finnish identity under the reign of Russia in the
19th century. Hoffmann adds: “the Finnish people have always
identified themselves with nature”. Therefore, the name of the exhibition, Kaivannaisia, refers not only to the actual
work of finding specific works from the collection but also to the journey of
exploration into the essence of Finnishness. 

{mosimage}On some walls the ensemble of
paintings with certain subject matter is being broken by Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s works illustrating tales from the Kalevala,
the national poem of Finland.
These mythical narratives that inspired national awakening in the 19th
century, equated with depictions of Finnish nature and folklore, reflect the
conceptions of the savage northern nature as the hive of Finnish consciousness.

The viewer’s attention is captured
with surprising details everywhere in the exhibition. For example, a steady
pattern of landscape paintings is often broken with a portrait. This comparison
of a person and a landscape connotes the age-old juxtaposition between culture
and nature. One way of waking up the visitor is also to hang a view from
sun-drenched Florence
by Pekka Halonen next to a group of
snowy landscapes. Many of the Finnish painters of the late 19th and
early 20th centuries visited the Central Europe where they not only
learned new techniques, for example the plain
, the open air technique, but also got to know modern movements which
they brought back along with them to Finland.

Christian Hoffmann reminds that
collection displays are very important for museums, because the collection is
the basis for museums existence and function. Museums are obliged to present
their collections to the audience, and a collection as considerable as the one
of Turku Art Museum enables a considerable number
of exhibitions. Kaivannaisia –
offers a good opportunity to get to know some of Finnish art
and cultural history. Through this exhibition one can take part in finding not
only the roots of northern people but also the identity of Turku Art Museum.  

Art Features

Villa Didrichsen: architecture and art


The museum is a masterpiece in itself. Because of the architecture: like many other buildings by famous Finnish architect Viljo Revell, Villa Didrichsen is not just another L-shaped building but a perfect blend of art, architecture and nature. And because of the location: built in 1957 on the shore of the Laajalahti, the villa enjoys a beautiful vista of the sea.

The history of the Didrichsen museum dates back to 1942 when Gunnard Didrichsen, a Danish businessman living and working in Helsinki, and his wife Marie-Louise bought a painting called ‘Ateria’ painted in 1899 by Pekka Halonen. At first, the couple focused on Finnish art of the 19th century, but they grew more and more interested in more modern paintings. In time, and sometimes with the help of Aune Lindstrom, at the time director of Ateneum, the Didrichsens ventured to purchase masterpieces like Pablo Picasso’s Artist at work, Wassily Kandinsky’s Church in Murnau, Fernand Léger’s Nature morte à la coupe, whilst increasing their collection of Finnish artists with the works of the likes of Helene Schjerfbeck – whose exhibition last year collected an impressive number of visitors and will soon tour Europe.

At the beginning of the '60s the Didrichsens also started collecting pre-Columbian and Eastern art pieces, now on display in the museum. In 1963 a foundation was settled to take care of the works of art and in a few years a new wing was added to the villa built by Revell. In September 1965 the museum was opened to the public, who could thus contemplate the family’s masterpieces. Already in 1968 it hosted the first exhibition with loans from other museums and galleries.

“The family was at the time living in the villa and Marie-Louise took care of the museum, from exhibits organization to tickets sale” tells Maria Didrichsen, head of exhibitions: “the last exhibition she organized before dying in 1988 was a Henry Moore memorial exhibition in January 1987. It was one of the first organized in the whole world, and the Didrichsen museum was able to do it because of the personal friendship that linked Moore and the Didrichsen family”.

Henry Moore’s masterpieces will return to Didrichsen in spring next year. Meanwhile, from January 27 to July 17 the museum will host Nella luce italiana – Italian valossa, a collection of paintings by Elin Danielson-Gambogi, a Finnish painter born in 1861, who lived part of her life in Italy. The exhibition will offer an opportunity to see paintings never shown before in Finland and to learn more about another interesting woman painter.

Art Features

Raimo Utriainen: mind vs passion

{mosimage}Now, for the
second round of Spring exhibitions, that will open from 8.2 until 29.4, that
path has been followed introducing one of the most remarkable figures in contemporary
Finnish art, and follower of the mathematical and geometrical lessons that
Malevich helped to spread around the world: Raimo Utriainen (1927-1994).

Utriainen´s fame
has crossed the national borders. His work can be contemplated in countries
such as Israel,
or Sweden,
and he was venerated in Japan,
where his abstract sculptures had an immediate success and exhibitions were
organized in Kamakura,
Kobe and Sapporo during 1978.

EMMA has had the
Raimo Utriainen Foundation Collection since October 2006, and with the upcoming
exhibition, the visitor will have the opportunity to contemplate a huge
different amount of material from the artist: 150 sculptures, drawings,
paintings, bronze portraits medallions and some other personal stuff that comes
mostly from the old artist’s studio that was located in Pitäjänmäki. In
addition, the WeeGee building itself, where EMMA museum is, appears as a
perfect surrounding for Utriainen´s work, having been designed by the artist´s
old friend, Aarno Ruusuvuori.

The opportunity
not only of observing his more famous side as sculptor, but also his paintings,
gives us an approach to a more personal drama in his lifestyle. Being proud of
his education with a solid background in mathematics and architecture,
Utriainen tried to hide his more romantic side as painter, where he could break
the limits that the formal structures in his sculpture represented. It was not
until 8 years before his death, in 1986, when he became older, that he allowed
this other side of his artwork to emerge in the public sphere, and show it in

Utriainen, born in
Kuopio, was
mostly interested in developing public sculptures that would suit in open
spaces. He did not make many portraits, although the few ones conserved give a
clear example of his mastery in all kinds of art fields.

{mosimage}Another of his
major influences was the Italian artist Brancusi,
and belonging to the generation of artists that studied and wrote about public
monuments after the Second World War, he remained as quite a strict defender of
the Constructivism and Modernism theories. Even when the formalities of size
and design are very much remarked upon in his work, the forms that the light
reflects in some of his sculptures are very sensual and expressive. Some of the
works you can contemplate inside the exhibition reach around three meters high!
Some others even had to be kept out of the exhibition for lack of space.

As well, the
exhibition would give a unique opportunity to take a look at his development in
his work with different materials. From the bronze used in some works during
the 1960s, like his famous “Ida Aalberg Statue”, dedicated to the actress, to
the steel and aluminium of the 1970s with his particular and personal style of
statues perfectly balanced in size, and formed by slats.

And for the
visitor, a last surprise. Not only Utriainen´s influence can be seen inside the
EMMA walls. If you just pay attention, close to the main entrance, there is
surrounded by trees a statue based on Utrianen´s miniature design.

Art Exhibitions


{mosimage}The basement gallery of the respectable
National Library is turned into a den of sin and debauchery. The exhibition
consists of 'zines, comics, poetry, records, drawings, photographs and films
that shook the conservative Finnish society of the late '60s. The efforts of
the underground movement, based on psychedelia, experimental music, beat
poetry, dada and student radicalism, were rewarded with fines and prison sentences. 

The movement was small, with only a few
dozen active members, but it made headlines – some of which are on show in the
exhibition. “When you don’t understand it, you’re afraid of it,” says M. A. Numminen, the self-proclaimed
father figure of Finnish underground, about the public outrage. It must be
said, however, that many of the products of the spaced-out era remain quite
incomprehensible despite having lost their shock value.

The explanation for the odd combination of
counter-culture and high-brow library is that the exhibition has its
foundations in the academia. In the last 15 years, several cultural researchers
have taken on the Finnish underground phenomenon. The exhibition, a
co-production of academics, journalists and artists, is a summing-up of the
work. Defying all expectations, however, SSH! is not dry and scholarly; rather,
it is multi-faceted and informative. One of the highlights is a feverish jazz
interpretation of Allen Ginsberg’s Howl,
in Finnish translation. At the time, the radio performance raised a fuss all
the way in the Finnish Parliament – now, you can enjoy it in peace in the

visiting the exhibition, by no means skip the rest of the library. The National
Library represents Finnish empire architecture of the early 19th
century, complete with frescoes in the reading rooms. The library’s well-kept
secret is the American Resource Centre that has an excellent selection of
contemporary magazines – if only you can find it. 

SSH! Suomalainen underground in the Gallery of the National Library, Unioninkatu 36
16.11.2006–3.3.2007. Free entrance.

Art Exhibitions

Inside Surreal

current exhibition, Stomach Pains, Head
Aches and Dizziness
, concentrates on the collision of reality and the
digital world of media. The gallery is filled with art that combines the
electric and inanimate with the material human body. For those with the desire
to experiment, probably the most intriguing piece would be Laughing My Guts Out (2006), which is a huge bouncy-castle
consisting of body parts, such as eyes, teeth and intestines. The artists state
in their introduction leaflet that the exhibition is about experiencing how the
mind deals with the idea of reality in a world that operates through several
forms of non-material media. Bringing together grotesque body parts and the
spectator in a fun and humourous way like this imitates the surprisingly calm
reaction that, for example, the horrors represented in TV awaken in us. 

piece that combines the digital with human body is the screen-installation Body Double (2004) in the museum lobby.
The screens combine the body parts of man and woman. The two bodies seem to
loom over each other composing anandrogynous character.

union between man and woman continues on the roof of the museum. The family
portrait 1+1=5 (2006) consists of
inflatable figures of a couple surrounded by their three children. Because of
their substance these figures, though placed together, seem to hover in the air
individually, each in their own world. 

the work that most perfectly crystallises the theme of the exhibition is found
back in the gallery. The PhysicalImpossibility of Foretelling
the Future: Lesson 1
(2006) is a massive black castle hanging upside down from the ceiling.
Inside is a canvas, where a figure of a young girl skipping a rope is
projected. The world that we see around us is distorted, projected upside down.
Inside the thick walls of a castle we are incapable of knowing what lies beyond
them. The media describes our world to us, but it also creates a new reality of
its own. That reality is like the enchanted castle from a fairy-tale.

exhibition of Andy Best and Merja Puustinen is on display in Wäinö Aaltonen
Museum of Arts, Turku until 28th of January 2007.

Art Interviews

Interview With Hanna-Leena Hemming

Could you tell us where the idea for opening the new museum came from?

Hanna-Leena: There were two coincidences that led to the opening of EMMA. First of all, we had the right building, this old printing factory that was available because it was being sold, and then the city of Espoo noticed that these premises could add value to the city. Then we heard that the Saastamöinen Foundation was looking for a place where they could put their works to be seen, so the two coincidences matched very well.

What could Emma offer that other contemporary museums in Finland do not, like for example Kiasma museum?

I think that EMMA will have a remarkable role in the Finnish art scene. We have Ateneum that shows art until beginning of 20th century, and then Kiasma which exhibits art that is the most modern and newest at the moment. Between these two museums was a big gap; the 20th century was missed, with coverage only from smaller museums. So now in EMMA we have a larger range of pieces of art that were not available in Finland before.

For the foreign visitor, you can already get tours information in English. Will there be other languages available in the future, like French or Spanish?

I am not sure about that, it is going to depend on the temporary exhibitions. If, for example, there is a French artist, there might be need for that, but it is very costly and the demand for other languages is limited, so at least in the beginning we will have to cover the gap with papers in different languages that guide the visitor.

What about the partnership with other international museums and galleries? Does EMMA have any special agreements with other museums around the world?

We do not permanent agreements, but we are working very closely with foreign museums. We are planning to have twelve temporary exhibitions per year, with very big international names, so we need cooperation. It is permanent in many senses, and the idea is to bring remarkable temporary exhibitions.

You have four important exhibitions for starters.

Yes, and four more that we are going to have after Christmas.

What were the criteria for choosing these artists for the opening of EMMA?

The head of the museum, Markku Valkonen, is personally responsible for this selection. I don’t know the criteria, but I think that his selection was very lucky one. It shows the beginning of modern art in a way if we think about Malevich, for example, and then something very new with the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat and her video installation.

You have both big Finnish and international artists' names. Is this going to be a trend for future exhibitions?

Yes definitely, we are going to have very big names for next year. Our plans reach even to the year 2009. For sure there will be more very interesting and exciting artists for the visitor.