Helsinki Contemporary’s year starts with Working on it, a group exhibition bringing together ten international contemporary artists. The exhibition asks, what is the role and potential of the artist and contemporary art in our time, defined by big changes. It seeks to bring beauty and solace – a shared and interactive experientiality to the midst of central questions. The artists of Working on it are Birgir Birgisson, Annika von Hausswolff, Sanna Kannisto, Olli Piippo, Zeynep Kayan, Onya McCausland, Roland Persson, Perttu Saksa, Axel Straschnoy and Miikka Vaskola.
Cellist Tatu Ahola will perform at the exhibition opening the premiere of IV-sarja soolosellolle, a piece composed for the occasion by composing artist Pekka Toivonen.
An all-encompassing change is present and real in the scale of identities, world politics and the entire planet. Uncertainty and worry for being left alone are recurring themes in discussion throughout the entire society. We have to be able to respond to the great changes, the advanced climate change forces us to concrete actions and digitalisation has rapidly moulded the ways we perceive the everyday and carry out work.
The artworks and artists of Working on it do not seek to find solutions or offer a single way to see and understand the challenges of our time – let alone satisfy with simply illustrating them. They work on issues that combine a private and shared, personal and societal imperative to react here and now. The works are born in their presence, they filter, mould and enable a profound empathy. The works bring forward a sensitive, porous beauty and through a located hope they introduce tools and a platform for handling the problems, for sharing and also seeing outside of them.
Only in an outward, forward motion can useful tools for change – conceptual as well as functional – be born. A wide and acute discussion is happening, and through an aesthetic experience we have a possibility to be a part of it, to use our voices and bodies. There are no straight answers, nor will there be, not even a ready recipe for tackling the questions, but the work, facing the issues, turning towards them, is ongoing – we are working on it.
The artists in the exhibition approach the questions uniting us all, with different techniques and from different angles, the exhibition includes moving image, painting, photography as well as sculpture.
Birgir Snæbjörn Birgisson, who works in Reykjavik, will bring to the exhibition new paintings that study the meaning of memories and the affects of mass media and information overload to our worldview. From the Swedish Annika von Hausswolff a series of works combining UV printing and oil painting will be seen at the exhibition. The starting point for the works have been images found online of women being arrested. Sanna Kannisto has continued her research based collage photographs first seen as part of her previous solo exhibition at Helsinki Contemporary. Kannisto will also present familiar bird pictures. The Turkish artist Zeynep Kayan works with repetition and utilises photograph, moving image and sound in her works. British Onya McCausland has prepared new paintings using iron oxide pigments, born as a biproduct of already shut down mining. Roland Persson's work Divanen delves into the meaning of Lucian Freud today through his familiar technique of silicone sculpture, playing with our perceptions. New paintings from Olli Piippo will be seen in the exhibition. The artist continues his study of minimalist, abstract expression and the tensions between the figurative and non-figurative. Perttu Saksa has continued his work with bronze sculpture, and will also bring new photographs to the exhibition. The Helsinki based, Buenos Aires born Axel Straschnoy's work Float has been inspired by the Swedish balloonist S.A. Andrée. The first edition of the work is sailing somewhere in the Arctic Ocean. Miikka Vaskola will bring to the exhibition abstract painting and, for the first time, the artist will also show sculptures in the exhibition.