13 June-17 August, 2014; Gallery Augusta, Suomenlinna B 28/2, 00190 Helsinki
The fifth annual summer exhibition at HIAP takes a look at questions of ecology and contemporary life with an international group of artists. There will be disappearances, traces, and new connections.
The exhibition is open from Tuesday to Sunday 11 am–5 pm. You're warmly welcome!
There is widespread belief in the capability of “modern” societies’ to rationally solve complex social, political, and economic problems and to correct the miscalculations of earlier generations. These societies are seen to have developed through progressive steps from primitive to more advanced modes of existence, with the fruits of this civilization process – modern science and technological innovations – having provided the tools for continuing the progress of the members of these societies on Earth.
This assumed progress has taken place within the framework of nation states. Their success has been measured by economic growth derived from consuming the resources of Nature.
An understanding of Nature as separate from human culture has provided an endless source of otherness, and a plethora of specialized disciplines have promised to offer humankind all the knowledge needed to benefit from it.
Paradoxically, in light of observations and research from over the last four decades, it seems that these assumptions have brought the ecosystem, of which the human species is a part, into a drastic state of imbalance. Despite signals on a planetary scale of transformations caused by human activities, the mainstream mind-set is still set in the mode of endless economic growth and progress. However, the conviction of human capability to handle ecological, social, and cultural crisis, has begun to waver.
This brings about an increasing sense of urgency for new approaches, understandings and skills. Space has to be made for speculation and uncertainty, instead of trying to cling on to existing truths.
The exhibition Dissolving Frontiers at HIAP Gallery Augusta finds its structure from the tension between modernist modes of organising human life and the need for new perspectives that require decomposing and unlearning its assumed truths, as well as the adoption of more speculative approaches.
The rear exhibition hall is dedicated to artworks by Khaled Ramadan, Hanna Husberg & Laura McLean, Nestori Syrjälä and Tonka Maleković. In their different ways, they deal with disappearance, either anticipated or actualised, as well as with roots, traditions and traces of what remains after something that has once existed will dissolve into something else.
In Malekovic’s Garden Circles a nearly 40-year-old community garden of one of the largest apartment blocks in Europe is bulldozed in one day without warning. Ramadan, with his documentary Maldives to be or not (2013), provides perspectives on the modernisation project of the Maldives and its politicised ecology. In their collaborative video work, also Husberg and McLean take a look at the Maldives and speculate on possible futures for this nation state anticipated to dissolve into the ocean within the next century. Nestori Syrjälä’s new video focuses on a subjective, embodied experience of ecological crisis.
The front space provides an open platform for new approaches and speculation. Over the course of the summer 2014, artists Tue Greenfort, Fernando Garcia-Dory, Mari Keski-Korsu, and Brett Bloom & Bonnie Fortune will make their marks and leave traces in the space. Their contributions open up new perspectives on existence on Earth by looking at questions of new technologies and territory, the dynamic of the urban and the rural, the secrets of the plant world, communication between humans and other species, and through finding new ways of listening to and being embedded in our environment.
The exhibition is co-curated by Jenni Nurmenniemi (HIAP, Helsinki) and Jussi Koitela (Helsinki).
About the artists
Brett Bloom (b. 1971) is an artist, activist, writer and publisher. His main work is collaboration with the group Temporary Services (Copenhagen/Chicago/Philadelphia). The group works together, writes about art, and publishes obsessively. They run Half Letter Press, a publishing imprint.
Bonnie Fortune (b. 1978) is an artist and writer whose work looks at ecology – social and environmental – and the communication of affect. Fortune often works collaboratively with artists and professionals from other disciplines to realize her interdisciplinary projects.
Together, Bloom and Fortune work on the Mythological Quarter using art as a tool to investigate place, ecology, city planning and more.
Fernando Garcia-Dory (b. 1978, living between Madrid and Mallorca and the mountains of Northern Spain) creates works engaging with issues concerning the relationship of culture and nature now, embodied within the contexts of landscape, the rural, desires and expectations related with identity aspects, crisis, utopia, and social change. Interested in the harmonious complexity of biological forms and processes, his work addresses connections and cooperation, from microorganisms to social systems, and from traditional art languages such as drawing to collaborative agro-ecological projects, actions, and cooperatives.
Tue Greenfort’s (b. 1973 in Holbaek, Denmark, living and working in Berlin) interdisciplinary practice deals with issues such as the public and private realm, nature and culture. Interweaving these subjects with the language of contemporary art, Greenfort formulates an often direct critique of current economic and scientific production practices. Fascinated by the dynamics in the natural world, Greenfort's work often revolves around ecology and its history, including the environment, social relations, and human subjectivity.
Khaled Ramadan (b. 1965 in Beirut, Lebanon, lives and works between Cyprus, Egypt and Lebanon) is an ‘artivist’, filmmaker, curator and cultural writer. Ramadan's specialist fields include the history of constructed media, the fusion of informative art with aesthetic journalism, and the history of visuality. He often applies his theoretical knowledge in his production to learn and to be informed about communities, people and the evolving social/human system. He is the initiator of the Chamber of Public Secrets art collective, and a member of the International Association of Art Critics (AICA).
His latest project Maldives To Be or Not deals with social and political science, climatology, and nature in relation to culture.
Hanna Husberg (b. 1981) is an artist based in Stockholm and a PhD candidate at the Vienna Art Academy. Her work explores the ‘unintended consequences’ of climate change, the complexity of global responsibility, and the entwinement of ecological damage with existing patterns of social inequality. It evolves between a practice of video and installation projects challenging different aspects of our physical and visual perception. Her ongoing research project Atmospheric Alienation has been developed in exhibitions and installations and through a curatorial practice with the Contingent Movements Archive and Symposium conceived for the inaugural Maldives Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale.
Laura McLean (b. 1984) is a Sydney-born curator, artist, and writer based in London. She has recently conducted research into the ontological and geopolitical repercussions of the Anthropocene era, and how these paradigm shifts correspond to processes engaged by contemporary artists in their work. She is interested in tactics employed to negotiate or negate the commodity status of the art object in response to these shifts, and the emerging rights of post-national, decentred subjectivities. Past curatorial projects include the Contingent Movements Archive and Symposium, conceived for the Maldives Pavilion at the 55th Venice Biennale, and Crisis Complex, an exhibition and series of events held at Tin Sheds Gallery, Sydney.
Mari Keski-Korsu (b. 1976, living and working in Helsinki and Sulkava, Finland) explores how ecological and socio-economic changes are manifested in people’s everyday lives – how a macrocosm becomes a microcosm and vice-versa. Her works are of a political nature with a humorous twist. The starting point of her work is often a location, a place and the relationship of people with it. Keski-Korsu’s practice consists, for example, of interventions, documentary, performance, virtual worlds, photography, live visualizations, and installations as well as of combining of these mediums. Keski-Korsu is interested in relations in between art, activism, politics, and science, and she collaborates with diverse artist groups, researchers as well as organizes and curates different types of projects.
Tonka Maleković (b. 1982, lives and works in Zagreb) The starting point for Tonka Maleković’s work is her immediate surroundings, everyday reality. It seeks potential arising from a conflicting relation between preconditions imposed by our physical and social environment and organic, uncontrolled processes, along with their spontaneous patterns. She finds a specific interest in cities, public space, urban anthropology and rural-urban relations. Her works are realized in different media and are very often participative actions or temporary interventions where she uses found material or builds symbolic relations between given scenery and the human figure. From 2003, Maleković has exhibited in Croatia and abroad and has realized a number of projects in public space.
Nestori Syrjälä (b. 1983, lives and works in Helsinki) is an artist making participatory installations, sculptures, and documentary video works. He often works in collaboration with other artists, writers and researchers. For the past seven years he has been obsessed with the crisis in human relations with the environment. Syrjälä’s works play on the paradoxes and pathologies of the consumption culture reliant on oil. His work deals with the Anthropocene: a geological era defined by human activity, characterized by climate change and the loss of biodiversity. The ground under our feet, the air that we breathe and the oceans that surround us are all becoming strange. The more we know the stranger things appear to be.
Frontiers in Retreat Project (2013-2018)
Frontiers in Retreat is a five-year collaboration project that fosters multidisciplinary dialogue on ecological questions within a European network formed around artist residencies. The project sets out to examine processes of change in particular, sensitive ecological contexts within Europe, to reflect them in relation to each other and to develop new approaches to the urgencies posed by them. Moreover, the project recognises the necessity of multidisciplinary approaches to the current ecological concerns and aims to develop means and platforms for this through methods of contemporary art.
The project is coordinated by HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme with support of the Culture Programme of the European Union. The project connects artist residency centers located in “remote” areas across Europe in order to provide a unique, transnational platform for investigating local and global ecological concerns. Frontiers in retreat is realised by seven artist residency organisations In Finland, Iceland, Scotland, Latvia, Serbia, and Spain in collaboration with Lithuanian art organisation that will develop the educational program of the project.
The core of the project is formed by research and production residencies. 25 European artists representing different cultures, generations and artistic approaches have been selected collaboratively by the project partners to develop new art works in response to the different ecological contexts of each residency site. During the coming years, the artists will circulate within the residency network and conduct artistic research driven by the particular ecologies of the sites.
Further information about Frontiers in Retreat can be found on the project's official website: www.frontiersinretreat.org
The Frontiers in Retreat project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
The project is also supported by the Ministry of Education, Kone Foundation and Alfred Kordelin Foundation.