Research Pavilion

Venice, 7 May – 28 June 2015


University of the Arts Helsinki organises a Research Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. The first pavilion in the history of the biennale to be dedicated to research will consist of an outstanding international contemporary art exhibition and a platform for events that feature artistic research. The dynamic between artistic research and contemporary art will be explored through the theme of experimentality.



Uniarts Helsinki will be hosting a second edition of the Research Pavilion in 2017 with international collaborators. Learn more at

Research Pavilion

University of the Arts Helsinki organises a Research Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. The dynamic between artistic research and contemporary art will be explored through the theme of experimentality.

While the exhibition Experimentality showcases contemporary art, the research events will ask: How does experimentality manifest itself in contemporary art? Has the discourse on artistic research and its methodologies redefined our ideas of experiments and experimentality? Does artistic research facilitate the emergence of new ways to discover connections between science, aesthetics and politics?

The commissioner of the Research Pavilion is Professor Anita Seppä, PhD, and it is curated by DFA Jan Kaila, Advisor in Artistic Research at the Swedish Research Council, and Professor Henk Slager, PhD. The project is coordinated by Academy of Fine Arts at the University of Arts Helsinki.

University of the Arts Helsinki – pioneering artistic research

In collaboratorion with:

EARN (European Artistic Research Network), Valand Academy (University of Gothenburg), GradCAM (Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media, Dublin), MaHKU Utrecht Graduate School of Visual Art and Design, Università IUAV di Venezia, Journal for Artistic Research (JAR) and Frame Visual Art Finland.

Exhibition Experimentality

The exhibition Experimentality in the Research Pavilion features artists from Finland and elsewhere in Europe.

The artists are Tiong Ang & Alejandro Ramirez, Magnus Bärtås, Dirk Hoyer, Henna-Riikka HalonenSimo Kellokumpu, Matts LeiderstamAntti Nykyri, Maija NärhinenTuula Närhinen, Janis Rafa, Heli Rekula and Hito Steyerl.


Exhibition catalogue (pdf)

Images of the exhibition's works below.



Tiong Ang & Alejandro Ramirez

House of Shyness, HD digital film, approx. 45 min, 2015

In House of Shyness, Tiong Ang has collaborated with artist/filmmaker Alejandro Ramirez to produce an experimental feature film, initially shot during a research period in Taipei for the Aesthetic Jam exhibition project at Taipei Fine Arts Museum in 2014. Beginning with observational dissociation, the film investigates the alienating impacts of undefined objects, of the museum institution and urban space, explicating a collision of subjective cultures. House of Shyness was a collaborative process in which performative situations were mediated to signify the tension between a chosen state of immanence and a collective, normative order. Alejandro Ramirez, as cinematographer and editor, has woven layers of sounds, voices and additional images into the production, responding to ideas of shared authorship and dualistic, collaborative settlement within cinematic conventions.

Tiong Ang’s practice blends the conceptual approach of spatial and new media art and the pictorial practice of painting, to address issues of hybridity, collective memory and political schisms, embedded in a permanent flux of contradictions and contexts. Portraying people negotiating the maze of their social, political, ethnic and cultural environments, Ang produces complex, visual narratives, while questioning the authenticity and impermanence of their origins and bearings.


Magnus Bärtås

The Miracle of Tensta (Theoria), 4K converted to HD video, 16 min, 2014

The film is a performed “theoria” (i.e. sharing a social situation and discussing something that was witnessed) of an event that took place in Tensta in summer 2012: images of an apparition of Virgin Mary spread through the social media and a miracle was witnessed in the local Syriac Orthodox church. The miracle was quickly integrated into the legacy of the church, but was expelled from mainstream media and history writing in Sweden. In addition to experimenting with the narrator role and the meaning of voice in a video essay, the work also discusses common social zones for testimony, discussion and negotiation in history writing.

Magnus Bärtås is an artist, writer and professor of fine arts at Konstfack in Stockholm. His dissertation in artistic research, You Told Me – Work Stories and Video Essays, was presented in 2010 at the University of Gothenburg. His latest book, All Monsters Must Die (together with Fredrik Ekman) is published by House of Anansi, Canada, in 2015 and his latest video work, The Miracle in Tensta (Theoria) was commissioned by Tensta Konsthall and made within the framework of the research project Microhistories.


Dirk Hoyer

(ap)art, documentary film, 60 min, 2015


In the current political and economic context, the question “are there any alternatives to the status quo?” is increasingly difficult to articulate. How can utopian visions animate new discussions on ways to organize society, including experiments with different social, political and economic arrangements?


(ap)art is a 60-minute documentary film which explores this question through interviews with 16 leading Estonian contemporary artists and their understanding of utopia. When Thomas More coined the neologism “utopia” in 1516, he merged two contradictory meanings into one: “outopia” (ancient Greek for “no place”) and “eutopia (“good place”). Can utopian visions help transform the contemporary “no place” into a “good place”?


Dirk Hoyer is a German-born filmmaker who lives and works in Estonia. He has studied in Berlin, Paris and Helsinki, and has directed several fiction and documentary films. Hoyer is currently focused on exploring the connection between art and utopia in the framework of his doctoral studies at Aalto University (Helsinki).


Henna-Riikka Halonen

Eden, The Pow(d)er of Fear, documentation and video, 12 min, 2014


Eden, The Pow(d)er of Fear was a performance/installation and later a film constructed at the Lilith performance studio in Malmö, Sweden, in May–June 2014. The starting point for the project was L’Eden et Apres (After Eden), a film by the French Nouveau Romain writer Alain Robbe Grillet from 1970. The whole set of Eden, The Pow(d)er of Fear has a repetitive structure and is full of mirror images. The order of scenes inside the set is governed by a throw of dice by a group of “students” who indulge in transgressive behavior of all sorts; games, plays and rituals. All this triggers a hallucinogenic, unpredictable chain of events, which takes on bizarre forms.


Henna-Riikka Halonen is a doctoral student at the Academy of Fine Art at University of the Arts Helsinki. She graduated with an MFA from Goldsmiths College, London, in 2006. Halonen has worked on and produced many Iarge-scale video projects and commissions. She has exhibited her work widely in international shows and festivals such as You Imagine What you Desire, Biennale of Sydney 2014; Eden The Pow(d)er of Fear, Lilith Performance Studio, Malmo, Sweden; Ny Finsk Videokunst, Kunsthall, Grenland, Norway; Gallery Factory, Seoul, Korea; Saison Video, France; Transmediale, 2012, Berlin; and Hors Pistes, Centre Pompidou, Paris.



Simo Kellokumpu

Hiding#2, video, 10 min, 2015.


Hiding is a series of context-dependent video works in which a group of people hide themselves. The chosen hiding place and the context are relevant to the people who are hiding. The Hiding series is an attempt to shift the viewer’s perception of a chosen place using one simultaneous but multidirectional choreographic intervention at the site. This work springs from my artistic research project Contextual Choreography.

Simo Kellokumpu is an artist-choreographer-researcher and a doctorate candidate in the Performing Arts Research Center at the Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki. In his art, he brings together different approaches from the domains of choreography, performance, installation and video. Kellokumpu is currently working with several artistic projects that are included in his research, including Seasons as Choreographers, Hiding and Mesh. The projects explore living relations between the context, body, perception, movement and the environment.



Matts Leiderstam

After Image, 2010-2012


After Image is a series of 21 photographs installed together or individually. Every picture shows an open book from my studio library, putting reproductions of historical paintings under close re-reading. The series was produced after a long period of artistic research. The aim is simple: by steering the viewer’s eye by the gestures of my hands and pinpointing specific details with a magnifying glass, the gaze is directed to look at other aspects of the painting – drawing attention to representations of the body and proposing a queer reading instead.


Matts Leiderstam was born in Gothenburg in 1956. He lives in Stockholm, Sweden. Leiderstam earned a PhD in Fine Arts at the Malmö Art Academy 2006, and is currently Professor in Fine Art at the same institution. His selected solo presentations include: Wilfried Lentz, Rotterdam (2014), Andrehn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm (2013), Kunsthalle Düsseldorf (2010), Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2007), Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz (2006), Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall (2005). Selected group shows: 8th Berlin Biennale, Berlin (2014), Ciclorama, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (2013), The End of Money, Witte de With, Rotterdam, Pandemonium – Art in the Time of Creativity Fever, the Gothenburg International Biennale of Contemporary Art (2011), Modernautställnigen, Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2010) and Farewell to Post-Colonialism – The Third Guangzhou Triennial, Guangzhou (2008).



Antti Nykyri

What also could it be? , audiovisual documentation, approx. 15 min, 2015


What also could it be? consists of audiovisual documentation of experimental artistic practice. Through the materiality of practice, it shows how the work is steered by experimentation, leading inevitably to something other while also unfolding new artistic affordances and outcomes.


Helsinki-based artist Antti Nykyri has worked with sound and music in several contexts including installation art, contemporary dance, sound art, application design, interface research, theatrical plays, electronic music, band projects and artistic research.


In his doctoral research for the Theatre Academy at the University of Arts Helsinki, Nykyri studies the means, requirements and eventualities that attend the life performance of sounds and sound design. His methodological approach and practice are based on the development of new and experimental instruments and sound sources.



Maija Närhinen

Blank, installation, mixed media, 2015

The space is filled with emptiness – blank sheets of paper. In my earlier works I combined existing images to create sculptural wholes, whereas in this piece I deal with non-existing images, images that haven’t been made yet.

The world will to a large extent become filled with images – empty space will be scarce. This scarce resource is on display here. At a time when we have more images than ever, we are trying to manage without paper. Paper used to be the first thing one
needed when planning things, and things documented on paper were considered true. Will the planning of an image also become unnecessary in the future? What do we need paper for; what is its role?

Maija Närhinen is a visual artist who lives and works in Helsinki. She holds an MA degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki and is currently a doctoral candidate at the same institution. Constructed of two-dimensional images, her sculptural installations explore issues of depicting and representation. Her main material has been paper, which she uses in different ways in three-dimensional works. Närhinen has exhibited internationally and in Finland (most recently at Skulptur, contemporary sculpture from the Nordic countries at RBS galleries, London, and Reality Bites – Document in Contemporary Art at Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki).



Tuula Närhinen

PROTOSCOPES – Looking Through the Glass, and What I Found There, installation with 35 mm slides in daylight slide viewers, 2015

The work is an experiment with lenses made from ice. It pays homage to 17th-century natural philosophers, such as the Dutch lens maker Antoni van Leeuwenhoek and members of the Italian Accademia del Cimento (Academy of Experiment). During the cold winters of the Little Ice Age, their practice-based work led the way towards a new research paradigm.

My experiment with ice lenses draws inspiration from the motto of Accademia del Cimento: “Provando e riprovando” (Trying and trying again).

Tuula Närhinen is a graduate of the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki (MFA). She is currently engaged in practice-led doctoral research at the University of the Arts in Helsinki. Närhinen’s work explores the physical and conceptual underpinnings of pictorial representation. She constructs experimental visual interfaces that connect the observer with the fabric of the world. Images that emerge from this interaction unravel the inherent pictorial potential in naturally occurring events.



Janis Rafa

Gravediggers, 4K video, stereo sound, 39 min, 2014.

Gravediggers are characters in a land riddled with roadkill. Human and non-human beings interweave under the same on-road cartography of unexplained tragedies. Rafa’s practice balances between an empirical perception of landscapes and their authentic representation. Her work is concerned with the heterogeneous multiplicity of living things, a multiplicity of organisms, of relations between the living and the dead. This is the land of her semi-autobiographic narrations; she revisits personal histories that reveal something of the subsequent carving of the fiction of a place, and not necessarily of the place itself.

Janis Rafa (1984, Greece) lives and works in Amsterdam and Athens. She holds a Doctorate in Fine Art from the University of Leeds, supported by AHRC. She recently completed her residency at Rijksakademie (2013–2014). She has received support for her projects from the Onassis Foundation, AFK and the Netherlands Film Fonds. Rafa presented her first solo exhibition in Amsterdam (2014) and has participated in Art Rotterdam Projections (2015), ‘Ce que raconte la solitude’ (Le Cartel, 2014), EARN Manifesta 8, Rencontres Internationales (2010), Thessaloniki Biennial (2009).


Heli Rekula

In Hemingway´s Garden, photographs, mixed media, 2012–2013; book, 2014

The work consists of landscape photographs, a series of serigraphy works, vintage press photos and other collected archive material. A book by the same title was published in autumn 2014. The origin of the work is of a single place and landscape, the garden of The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum in Key West, Florida. "The Venice edition" consists of a small fragment of the original project, the book and a freely selected excerpt from archives that relates to Hemingway’s stays in Venice and Veneto. His last stay at the lagoon was in spring 1954, when he was returning from a safari in East Africa. Setting photographic art alongside documentary and historical material, the work in its entirety is also an investigation of the functions ascribed to photography.

Heli Rekula is an artist and professor of photography at the Department of Fine Arts, Bergen Academy of Art and Design. She is the recipient of the 2002 Ars Fennica Award, selected by Robert Storr, and of the Finnish State Art Prize for Photography in 2005. In 2011 she was nominated for the 2012 Carnegie Art Award. Rekula received the Finnish Art Society´s Literature Award in 2014 for the book In Hemingway’s Garden. The award is given to works that have significantly furthered art literature and the recognition of art in Finland. Rekula participated in the 2001 Venice Biennale exhibition Plateau of Humankind curated by Harald Szeemann.


Hito Steyerl

Strike, video, 28 sec, 2010

Taking the digital image as their point of departure, Hito Steyerl’s films and essays enter a world in which a politics of dazzle manifests itself as collective desire. Since war, genocide, capital flows, digital detritus, and class warfare always take place partially within images, what we have to deal with is no longer the virtual but a confusing and possibly alien concreteness that we are only beginning to understand.

Today the image world, Hito Steyerl reminds us, is far from flat. And, paradoxically, it may be that its ethics can be located in its most trashy and hollowed-out spots. This is where forms run free and that which is altogether unseen and unrecognized toys with political projects at the speed of light. It is where spectacle and poverty merge, then split, then dance.

Hito Steyerl is a filmmaker and writer. She teaches New Media Art at University of the Arts in Berlin. Steyerl studied film at the Academy of Visual Arts in Tokyo, the University of Television and Film in Munich, and holds a PhD in philosophy from the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna.

Commissioner Anita Seppä, Curators Jan Kaila & Henk Slager

Commissioner Anita Seppä, Curators Jan Kaila & Henk Slager


Anita Seppä is professor of artistic research at the post-graduate programme of the Academy of Fine Arts at University of the Arts Helsinki. Her research interests cover a broad range of issues, such as globalization and the arts, the borderlines of aesthetics, ethics and politics, and visual culture studies. As a founding member of the Pori School of Visual Culture Studies (2004–2006), she has also been actively involved in various administrative capacities, acting, for example, as the head of the Studies and Research program, and as a Vice Dean. At the moment, she is also an adjunct professor in Philosophical Aesthetics (University of Helsinki) and Art Education (University of Jyväskylä).



Jan Kaila earned his Doctorate in Fine Arts from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2002. Between 2004 and 2014 he served as Professor of Artistic Research at the Academy. Kaila has worked as a lecturer, curator and evaluator of fine art and fine art education in several European countries. He has exhibited widely in Europe, the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea. Kaila was one of the founding members of the European Artistic Research Network in 2004, and he has since 2014 been Advisor of Artistic Research at the Swedish Research Council.

As professor of artistic research (Finnish Academy of Fine Art 2010-2015) and as Dean of MaHKU Utrecht, Henk Slager has made significant contributions to the debate on the role of research in visual art. In 2004, Henk Slager – together with Jan Kaila and Gertrud Sandqvist – initiated the European Artistic Research Network (EARN), a network that investigates the impacts of artistic research on current art education through symposia, expert meetings, and presentations. Departing from a similar focus on artistic research, he has also produced various curatorial projects, the most recent being Offside Effect (1st Tbilisi Triennial, 2012), The Judgment is the Mirror (Living Art Museum Reykjavik 2013) and Aesthetic Jam (Project Taipei Biennial, 2014). Slager is currently preparing the 5th Guangzhou Triennial.

Research Pavilion Programme

Parallel to the exhibition, the pavilion will host events throughout the exhibition period: lab projects, discussions, screenings, interventions, seminars and performative situations.

Research Pavilion schedule below.

Research Pavilion Schedule

Research Pavilion Schedule

Wed 6.5.
Opening reception of the exhibition Experimentality

18.00-20.00 in collaboration with Frame Visual Art Finland and the Alvar Aalto Pavilion of Finland. Opening Performance: HUMAN COMPUTER DISTRACTION by Chicks on Speed.

Thu 7.5.
PowerPoint - Interstices of Art making and Artistic Research

11.00-17.00 Series of events, workshops and performances by TAhTO Doctoral Programme, University of Arts Helsinki:  Henna-Riikka Halonen, Dirk Hoyer, Esa Kirkkopelto, Itay Ziv, Tero Nauha, Elina Lifländer, Julius Elo, Kirsi Törmi, Kiril Kozlovsky, Sirkka Kosonen, and Pasi Lyytikäinen.
Full programme (pdf)


Fri 8.5.
Be-Longing: 'Sense of Belonging' in relation to Locality and Escapism as Artistic Techniques

10.30-16.00 Symposium arranged by doctoral student Itay Ziv, with Edna Barromi Perlman, Agnieszka Pindera and Ibtisam Mara'ana-Menuhin. Organizer: Academy of Fine Arts, University of Arts Helsinki.
Full programme (pdf)


Sun 10.5. – Sun 17.5.
Prospects: Before You Ask Me to Stay

MaHKU (Utrecht) Fine Art students ‘occupy’ the Research Pavilion with individual and collaborative works and interventions. The space will be used for exploring concepts of performativity, interactivity, mobility, studies, seminars and trials. Project coordinated by Tiong Ang.
Full programme (pdf)


Tue 19.5.
per.SPICE! - The Art of Research with the spice of perception

12.00-17.00 A daylong event of talks and discussions related to the Journal for Artistic Research (JAR), with Julian Klein, Matthias Neukirch, and Michael Schwab.
Full programme (pdf)


Sat 30.5.
Meeting the Other. Ethics in participatory moving image

12.00-17.00 Symposium by doctoral student Johanna Lecklin, with Johanna Oksala and Maija Timonen. Organizer:  Academy of Fine Arts, University of Arts Helsinki.  
Full programme (pdf)


Sat 30.5.

An  evening conversation that explores the dynamics of the ”exhibitable” and the construction of publicness in the spirit of Robert Smithson’s "site/non-site," with Paul O’Neill BARD CCS and Mick Wilson Valand Academy of Arts (Gothenburg). From non-site to site, from non-exhibition to exhibition: what is the topos of exhibition/non-exhibition in the crowded moments of mega-exhibition?
Full programme (pdf)


Sun 31.5.
The frustrated witness. Realizing near misses within temporary exhibitions

13.00-17.00 The symposium takes a look at the trend for re-enactment within the contemporary art world, a task that is predestined to fail or at least can only ever be partially successful. Arranged by doctoral student Flis Holland, with Florian Dombois, Hans Rosenström, and Juuso Tervo. Organizer: Academy of Fine Arts, University of Arts Helsinki.
Full programme (pdf)


Sun 31.5.
Exhibition/Nonexhibition II: Paul O’Neill and Mick Wilson. With special contribution from “the food thing.”


Mon 1.6.
Voices of Consolation

12.00-14.00 Moving image laboratory, including a screening and a workshop by Elina Saloranta, doctoral student Academy of Fine Arts, University of Arts Helsinki.
Full programme (pdf)

Tue 2.6 – Thu 4.6.
Interdisciplinary exploration of historical, traditional, experimental and improvisational performance practices

Organized by Doctoral School of Classical Music and Doctoral School of Music Education, Jazz, and Folk Music both from Sibelius Academy, University of Arts Helsinki.
Full programme (pdf)


Sun 14.6. – Sat 20.6.
Performing Arts Research Centre

Programmed by doctoral researchers Sami Henrik Haapala, Tuula Janicke, Otso Kautto, Simo Kellokumpu, and Rania Khalil. Theatre Academy, University of the Arts Helsinki.

Full programme

For more info


Sat 27.6.

Exhibition/Non-exhibition: Streched out


Speakers: Valerio del Baglivo, curator and doctoral researcher, (Middlesex University, IT/UK), Dr. Emma Coffield, Researcher (International Centre for Cultural and Heritage Studies, Newcastle University, UK), Dr. Georgina Jackson (Director of Mercer Union, Toronto, CN), Megs Morley, artist and independent curator, Para-Institution, (IRL) Jason E. Bowman, artist/curator (Valand Academy, UK/SE), Dr. Julie Crawshaw, anthropologist (SE/UK)

Context: Stretched is a three-year-long inquiry, instigated by Jason E. Bowman. Its aim is to inquire into the field of artist-led cultures and how these may inform new knowledge on the curatorial and in particular models of making public the expansions of practice that artist-led cultures generate. The seminar will interrogate the research agenda of Stretched with reference to existing inquiries by others who broadly relate to its knowledge framework.

Hospitality/discussion: co-organised by Kjell Caminha, Andreas Engman, Rose Borthwick, Maria Buyondo, Anja Hellström, Camilla Melin—staff and students at the Valand Academy.


Sun 28.6.

13.00 After the exposition: GradCAM’s first generation of doctoral graduates
 With the announcement of a new cohort of doctoral researchers funded through the Graduate School of Creative Arts and Media in Ireland, it is timely to consider the experience and practice of the first generation of researchers to complete their research projects wand what happens after the PhD. Georgina Jackson, Conor McCarrigle and Dave Loder speak with the current and the former Deans, Noel Fitzpatrick and Mick Wilson respectively, about their experience and the impact of doctoral research on their subsequent practices as artist, curator and critic. Given the much debated question of the role of doctoral education in contemporary art, this informal discussion tries to open up the question from the perspective of the first wave of graduates from one of the many experimental platforms that emerged in Europe during the 2000s.


14.00–16.00 Curatorial Memory and Exhibition Amnesia

Speakers: The new PARSE professors, Andrea Phillips and Dave Beech and invited guests.

Context: Drawing upon the former usage of the venue for the first Research Pavillion as a platform for national exhibition, the concluding event of the first Research Pavilion, will be co-hosted by PARSE Journal of Artistic Research. To be in the place of Palestine, to be in the place of India,  we discuss an experiment in curatorial memory and exhibition amnesia. Organized by Valand Academy.

Contact information

Research Pavilion
Sala del Camino, Campo S. Cosmo
Giudecca, 621 Venice
(Vaporetto stop Palanca)

7 May – 28 June 2015
Open Tue-Sun 12.00–17.00 (closed on Mondays unless otherwise informed)
Opening party 6 May 2015 from 18.00–20.00

Read Research Pavilion blog posts here.
Follow Research Pavilion on Facebook

Anita Seppä
+358 40 860 9522


Jan Kaila
+358 40 509 4386


Media Contact

Head of Communications
Eevastiina Aho
+358 45 657 9347

Press photos: imagebank.