The new Kiasma collection exhibition is aptly named It’s a Set-up. The name is connected to the event nature of contemporary art; how works are constructed and how art is viewed. All of it is sort of set-up, describes Chief Curator Pirkko Siitari.
“It’s a Set-up makes you think: if this is a set-up, then what is not? The line between spontaneous and planned, or staged and natural, is thin. The viewers have an important role to play. It is up to them as to how they experience the exhibition and how it turns out. ”, tells Pirkko Siitari.
Where did the idea come from?
“Development in recent years shows how contemporary art is openmindedly crossing all kinds of borders, for example between fine art and performance art. This development is based on the events and performances in the 1960s. In the 1990s, the concept of Relational Art became more common. The French curator Nicolas Bourriaud uses the term to refer to art that draws from the relations and events between people. This means that the works of art are born in a specific historical time and place, and that they also produce new relations. An example of this is the artist Johanna Lecklin and her Story Café, where she invites people for a cup of coffee in exchange for a story.”
“The exhibition observes events from different viewpoints. For example, we see the significance of artist Antti Laitinen’s work process in the piece It’s my Island. It tells of an extremely slow and physical event.”
Siitari describes the artist’s work: “First the artist drags sand for the foundation of the island. Finally, after nearly two hundred sandbags, he has created an island. The artist has written and created a performance that has also been videotaped. The whole thing – physicality, use of time, and landscape – is a wellplanned set-up.”
How is the event present in a painting?
“For example, it can be present in the process of creating a work. Artist Tiina Mielonen usually finishes her paintings in one go. She paints landscapes onto plexiglas surfaces. The works emphasise extreme confidence and abstract styling. She receives ideas for the landscapes from postcards. A finished work can feel familiar and peculiar at the same time.”
What is there for the viewer to see and experience?
“We also deliberate on the role of the spectator. An example of this viewpoint is Jacob Dahlgren’s work The Wonderful World of Abstraction. The artist had seen a cartoon in which the viewer had disappeared into the stripes of a painting. Therefore, Dahlgren decided to try out a sculpture based on a similar idea. He created a striped wall that was constructed of ribbons within which you could disappear. A perfect experience comes from diving into the colourful sea, walking through the ribbon waves and letting the ribbons touch you,” Pirkko Siitari inspires. “An art experience is born, and the work binds the viewer to the work itself through a sensory experience.”
The viewer has a role in creating the exhibition. What happens when the role of the viewer changes?
“Salla Tykkä’s work ZOO presents two different worlds. In one, a stylish woman walks around a zoo with her camera. The other one takes place in the intense world of underwater rugby. The artist creates a tension between these two worlds, one between surface and depth, and the other between watching and being watched. Things are not what they seem. In a zoo, we look at the animals, but in Tykkä’s Zoo, the viewer becomes the object.”
Does each visitor have his or her own event?
“Hilda Kozári’s work AIR, scent of Helsinki, Paris, and Budapest invites the viewer to use senses other than just vision. The artist has used scents to create her memories of three cities inside three acrylic bubbles. An expert in scents, a Parisian perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour took part in creating the work. Kozári described things to him that she thought were typical of the scent of each city. Each visitor can have his or her own interpretation of what Helsinki smells like and create his or her own notion of the work.”
The Kiasma Store sells the exhibition catalogue, and a guide booklet can be purchased, from the Kiasma Info.
It’s a Set-up
THE COLLECTION EXHIBITION
The collection exhibition presents around 70 works. Some of the works will be switched in the autumn. Artist meetings, lecture series, and workshops will take place during the exhibition.
The exhibition presents contemporary art that has shifted from a single object into an event. The exhibition highlights the viewer as experiencing a work and the artist as arranging an event. The focus is on participatory art and artworks that include a performance or staged situation by the artist.
Curators: Eija Aarnio, Leevi Haapala, Saara Hacklin, and Pirkko Siitari.