Connecting Points (Finland-Russia Exchange)

Connecting Points is a program that aims at strengthening the collegial and curatorial activity in artistic and cultural realm in/within Finland and in Russia. The program is currently coordinated and curated by artist-curator Miina Hujala (from 2016 until 2020 together with Arttu Merimaa who also run a display window space called Alkovi in Helsinki).

Currently the program focuses on three-year research project (2021-2023) that examines the role of residencies and sustainability, especially in Russian context. The project is done together with Angelina Davydova – a journalist based in St.Petersburg and Adel Kim – a Moscow based curator. The project is funded by the Kone Foundation.

Currently ongoing as a part of Connecting Points-program is a project examining the role of travel in relation to art field activity. Project is especially related to residency practices and focusing on the eastbound long-distance land-based travel. Project aims to think how durational and shared travel experience as a group could accommodate working, exploring and collaborating together and is supported by The Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Previous program has included:

In 2020 due to the pandemic international travel was restricted and focus on the program was dedicated in strengthening the connectivity locally and inviting artists with Russian background as residents. Ilya Orlov was a resident in October-November 2020, and Anastasia Artemeva was invited for spring 2021. We also supported the publication ‘Inventing Everyday Life’  that documents the five years of the international site-specific exhibition project ‘Local Library Window: Contemporary Art about Everyone for Everyone’, which took place in St Petersburg between 2013 and 2017 and was curated by Andrey Shabanov. Connecting Points- program collaborated and participated in the project in 2016.

During the years 2017-2020 program focused on research project called ‘In Various Stages of Ruins’ which developed as an examination of the concepts of knowledge formation, information distribution, landscape, travelling, memory, history, museums and ruins. It was an artistic research project – tackling the methods and means that artists work with when embarking on a mission of discovery and expedition. Project was done with the support of Kone Foundation (2017-2019) – initially starting as a project dealing with propaganda and disinformation as themes – and with the support of The Finnish Cultural Foundation (2019-2020) focusing on east-bound train travel as an opportunity for artistic work.  Artists Elina Vainio, Eero Yli-Vakkuri and Iona Roisin were invited as partners working in the project. Assisting in the trips and production was Katja Kalinainen and as graphic designer was Matti Kunttu. The exhibition ‘Collapsed Mine’ at Alkovi by artist Jussi Kivi was also part of the project as well as presentations at ASI SPACE at CCI FABRIKA and at  ZARYA Center for Contemporary Art in Vladivostok. More info can be found from Alkovi’s website and the project’s blog publication:

The Connecting Points -program has as a principle explored the interrelations and specific aspects of different sites and locations as well as understandings between them. A location can provide a source for action and commitment but also provide a setting from which to reach – intense and temporal – as well as profound and enduring connections.

In 2019, as a collaboration with Alkovi, artist Kirill Savchenkov visited in relation of his exhibition ‘Horizon Community Display’ with Daria Kalugina. St. Petersburg based curator Anastasia Skvortsova stayed in residency for the month of February in Suomenlinna Island. Anna Titova and Stanislav Shuripa from Agency Of Singular Investigations/ASI were residents in April. Utilizing new spaces in Eläintarha villa, program has had a visits from the curators Leyli Aslanova in January and Margarita Osepyan in April both by invitation from the Finnish Embassy at Moscow. The program collaborates regularly with the Finnish Embassy in Moscow especially with the Annual Internship Program for Young Russian Curators that is organized by the members of the EUNIC -network (European Union National Institutes for Culture) and in 2019 the participant was Anna Ivanko who visited the Ateneum Art Museum for two weeks on October. We had also a residency exchange with Zarya Center for Contemporary Art, situated in Vladivostok, where artist Hanna Kaisa Vainio spend the months of September and October and artist Elizaveta Konovalova was a resident at HIAP from September to November.

Connecting Points-program is also committed to thinking about the role of travel in artistic and cultural activity, and focuses on developing models for land-based methods of traveling taking in consideration the need to find alternatives for fossil-based forms of energy production. This focus is connected to the research project thinking of eastbound train-travelling. Here is link to a blog posting on the travelling Trans-Siberian (from 2018):

Last year, we also did two exhibition events related to our ongoing project dealing with knowledge production and information distribution – at 4th of September at ASI space at Center for Creative Industries / Fabrika, Moscow and at 21st of September at Zarya Center for Contemporary Art in Vladivostok.

In 2018 the program has included a residency stays by artist David Ter-Oganyan, a historian and curator Ilya Budraitskis and Polina Kolozaridi, a sociologist and a junior researcher in Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

In relation to Ter-Oganyan’s stay there was an exhibition at Alkovi. In connection to Ilya Budraitskis’s residency we invited filmmaker Dimitri Venkov to present his work Krisis (2016) in Helsinki on March followed by discussion between Budraitskis and Venkov. Also during Polina Kolozaridi’s stay at HIAP, a discussion event was arranged in collaboration with Titanik gallery / Artist’s Association Arte situated in Turku. The topic was ‘Digital disengagement and nostalgia: did the internet have any alternatives’.

In 2018 EUNIC participation was done partnering with the Design Museum and having as a participant curator Tatiana Kudriavtseva. In 2017 EUNIC-collaboration was with the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and participant curator Natalia Fuchs.

In 2018 in relation to Connecting Points program we invited three practitioners from the contemporary art field in Finland to visit Moscow and also had an excursion by train to Vladivostok in relation to our reserach project dealing with knowledge production and distribution as well as media and information tactics.

In 2017 program consisted of residencies that were for the most part related to our collaboration with the curatorial collective TOK / Anna Bitkina & Maria Veits. Playwright and journalist Mikhail Kaluzhsky was invited to work on a new play in the beginning of the year and artists Lado Darakhdvelize as well as Alevtina Kakhidze were residents during August 2017. The activity of 2017 in the program focused on the States of Control- exhibition that took place in HIAP Augusta gallery and events curated by Bitkina & Veits. The new productions of Kaluzhsky’s play ‘Like, It Fake it’ and Darahvelize’s exhibition ‘Cooking the New Planet” were done in collaboration with Kiasma Theatre’s URB 17- festival.

In 2017 the program also organized a research trip to the 4th Ural Industrial Biennial in Yekateringburg, Russia for curators and art professionals based in Finland. More about the excursion can be read form a posting in HIAP’s blog:

In 2016 program included inviting a Moscow-based artist Irina Korina to take part in the programme by doing a residency in HIAP and making an exhibition in Alkovi as well as a project called ‘In-common’ / Что-то общее, that took place in a library in the suburb of Saint Petersburg. The project was a collaboration with art historian and curator Andrey Shabanov who has organized exhibitions in this local library during summer-time from 2014. Artists Crystal Bennes, Tanja Koponen and Mikko Kuorinki were invited to take part by presenting each a work in this context.

Helsinki Design Residency curated by Martin Born has also been a part of Connecting Points-program supporting the visit of Russian based designer and in collaboration between STRELKA (Moscow).

The original concept for this Finnish-Russian Exchange program (then titled Changing Places)  was developed by curator Marita Muukkonen. In 2014 curator Jenni Nurmenniemi took over the programme responsibilities and it was retitled as Connecting Points.

Finland–Russia Exchange is supported by Ministry of Education and Culture.