Suomi 100: Critical Map makes critical observations of Finland celebrating the centenary of its independence

Suomi 100: Critical Map is an exhibition and an event that provides an artistic snapshot and a multilateral commentary on Finland in 2017. The exhibition is part of the Suomi 100 programme of the University of the Arts Helsinki, and it features 11 installations and four events organised at the Exhibition Laboratory of the Academy of Fine Arts from November 24 to December 14, 2017.

The exhibition showcases works by twelve young visual artists, who have participated in a year-long project in which they have delved critically into various phenomena that are current in our society through artistic processes, lectures and discussions. Field work has played an important role in the projects: the artists have travelled across Finland, both individually and collectively, visiting Finnish people and places where things actually happen.

– The exhibition explores the question of what is really going on in Finland if we look past the centenary celebrations, say Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, the visiting professors leading the project.

Amid all the celebrations, the artists make poignant observations about the present-day situation in Finland. The works touch upon many critical themes in our society, including the rights of the Sámi people, the rise of neofascism, moral conflicts, increasing inequality, and loneliness. One of the striking features arising from the works is the artists’ wish to understand present-day phenomena through past events. The works approach the past through historical re-enactments, imaginary conversations, and re-interpretations.

The participating artists are Elisa Aaltonen, Titta Aaltonen, Kristoffer Ala-Ketola, Geir Byrkjeland Moona Pennanen, Arja Kärkkäinen, Astri Laitinen, Iisa Lepistö, Milja-Liina Moilanen, Anna-Sofia Nylund, Emma Peura and Oskari Ruuska Amanda Solorzano.

The artists’ take on current topics is further enriched by guests whom the artists have invited to take part in the exhibition. The guests include the artists’ grandparents, people whom the artists have met while traveling across Finland, journalists, and even people who have already passed away. The guests have provided the artists with material that is displayed at the exhibition, thus offering a special perspective to the works presented. The guests include people like Xavier Hildén, who travelled across Finland with a city bike, and who takes part in the exhibition by the invitation of Iisa Lepistö, and Hilkka Magga, invited by Emma Peura, who shares her stories about the Lokka Reservoir region from the time when the reservoir had not yet been built. Titta Aaltonen’s Cinderella, a work examining the concept of the ideal woman, is commented on by artist Risto Vuorimies, who reflects upon the question of what an ideal son would be like. Kristoffer Ala-Ketola, on the other hand, has incorporated an article by journalist Michael Hobbes, Together Alone – The Epidemic of Gay Loneliness, into his work. Other guests include Antti Ahtiluoto, Ludvig Allén, Kauko Kaikkonen, Kolya Kotov, Hilja Palsa, Ilkka Peura, Eelis Pukarinen and Lahja Puura. 

The opening of the exhibition will be held at the Exhibition Laboratory on Thursday, November 23, at 6 o’clock p.m.

Extensive special events organised in connection with the exhibition

Re-enacting history: The Agitation Party in Lapua, December 3
Geir Byrkjeland and Moona Pennanen will arrange an event at the Youth Centre in Lapua, where people will re-enact the events of the Agitation Party that was held in 1929. The re-enacted scenes are related to the meeting organised by the Red Youth, which resulted in a confrontation between the Reds and the people in Lapua, thus providing fertile soil for the increased popularity of the Lapua Movement and the political climate of the 1930s. Byrkjeland and Pennanen will stage a performance and show documentary footage of the event on the last day of the exhibition, Thursday, December 14. You can read more about the project at https://lapuaesitys.fi/.

The artists are looking for people to participate in the event: you can sign up at the project website. Participating in the re-enactment, and the re-enactment itself, are not politically aligned in any way. People taking part in the re-enactment will be offered a meal and free bus rides from Helsinki to Lapua and back.

Kino Club´s screening, December 3 at 6pm
Screening with a topic “Red” at Exhibition Laboratory’s students space Ex-Club.

Dependence Party, December 5 at 6 pm
On December 5, the artists of the project organise a "Dependence Party", which acknowledges the dependencies that our lives are built upon. 

A central role of the Dependence Party will be Bita Razavi's new work Divorce, which is a divorce ceremony and celebration. This event is the closure for a process she started in 2011 with her MFA graduation work How to Do Things with Words (A Legal Performance), in which she got married. The ceremony master of the event is UK based curator Alexandra MacGilp. 

Other events of the Dependency Party are a story telling moment by a Sami lady Hilkka Magga, who shares memories related to Lokka Reservoir besides Emma Peura´s prints dealing with the same topic and Antti Ahtiluoto´s presentation about beer making and the contemporary brewing scene – and about his own yeast he has developed for brewing. The presentation takes pace besides Arja Kärkkäinen´s work dealing with alcoholism. 

The eve of the Independence day continues with Dependency Disco with DJ´s Takay-Sin and Jo, and Dependency Karaoke.

Free admission!

Suomi 100: Critical Map
24.11.–14.12.2017
Exhibition Laboratory
Merimiehenkatu 36, Helsinki.
Open Tue-Sun 11-18, extended opening hours during the events.