Helsinki Biennial 2023 brings together 29 artists and collectives to exhibit across Vallisaari Island and the Finnish capital
This year, the biennial’s central location of Vallisaari Island in the Helsinki archipelago will have a particular emphasis on outdoor artworks which subtly operate in dialogue with the surrounding environment and its unique ecosystem.In addition, a 20-minute ferry ride away, artworks and the wider biennial programme sprawl across mainland venues including HAM Helsinki Art Museum, Helsinki Central Library Oodi, Stoa and Caisa Cultural Centers, other public spaces in the city, and online, accessible via helsinkibiennial.fi.
The Helsinki Biennial 2023 participants include:
Matti Aikio (Sápmi) *
Ahmed Al-Nawas & Minna Henriksson (FI) *
Dineo Seshee Bopape (ZA)
Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley (UK/DE)
Golden Snail Opera (Anna Tsing, Yen-ling Tsai, Isabelle Carbonell, & Joelle Chevrier) (TW/FR/US)
Alma Heikkilä (FI) *
INTERPRT (NO) *
Keiken (UK) *
Sonya Lindfors (CM/FI) *
Lotta Petronella sekä Sami Tallberg & Lau Nau (FI) *
Asunción Molinos Gordo (ES)
Tuula Närhinen (FI)
Diana Policarpo (PR)
Sepideh Rahaa (IR/FI)
Bita Razavi (FI/IR/EE)
RED FOREST (UA/UK/US/MX/DE/FI/ZA) *
Remedies (Sasha Huber & Petri Saarikko) (CH/FI) *
Tabita Rezaire (FR)
Emilija Škarnulytė (LT) *
Yehwan Song (KR) *
Suzanne Treister (UK)
Adrián Villar Rojas (AR) *
Zheng Mahler (HK)
*An asterisk denotes a new commission.
Helsinki Biennial 2023 12 June – 17 September 2023
Press preview: 8 June | Vernissage: 9 – 10 June
For New Directions May Emerge, new commissions explore alternative ways of living in, and understanding, the world, whilst envisioning various potential futures.
On Vallisaari Island, Adrián Villar Rojas will present a site-specific sculptural work, From the Series The End of Imagination (2023), which expands from his ongoing series Brick Farm. Inspired by the Argentinian hornero bird – which makes its nests from mud, straw and rubble, adapting them to human-built surroundings – Villar Rojas’ nest-shaped sculptures will be scattered across the island, attached to trees, rocks, and buildings. For this iteration, the sculptures have been designed using an amalgamation of software collectively described as the ‘Time Engine’. The work marks a shift in Rojas’ practice, from organic ephemeral sculptures inspired by the hornero, to these more artificial, otherworldly new forms, or nests for unknown lifeforms. Exposed to the natural and built environment of Vallisaari, the works change and evolve over time, much like the island itself, embracing ideas of destruction and decay as an inevitable part of the life cycle.
On the Southern-most part of the island, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley invites visitors to take part in a role-playing performance event and installation which explores a speculative Black trans mythology of Vallisaari Island. With live events taking place in June, August and September 2023, visitors are invited to explore Vallisaari and meet various characters in the form of physical sculptures along the way. An online counterpart will allow participants to listen to the personal stories of these characters, bringing their fictional histories to life.
Meanwhile, inside one of the island’s former gunpowder magazines, Emilija Škarnulytė will present her new film installation Hypoxia. Drawing inspiration from the Baltic Sea, the work meditates on extinction, future archaeology, and deep time, examining the ocean basin from an "alien archaeological perspective" to reconstruct mythologies and beliefs of the past and present. Central subjects include the Baltic Sea Anomaly, a spacecraft that reportedly lies at the bottom of the Baltic Sea; ‘hypoxia’ or ‘dead zone’, the man-made phenomenon of oxygen depletion in the ocean; and the Lithuanian myth of Jūratė, whose underwater palace was destroyed due to a dalliance with a human.
Nearby, Sámi artist Matti Aikio presents a new multichannel video and sound installation. With a background in reindeer herding, Aikio’s practice focuses on the historical treatment of the Sámi population and the appropriation of indigenous identity; all themes related to Sámi self-determination, which have been under recent political debate in Finland. For the biennial, Aikio raises questions related to the utilization of natural resources, preservation of nature, generation of fossil-free energy, and human relations with other forms of life.
Artist collective Keiken create speculative worlds through filmmaking, gaming, installation, Extended Reality (XR), blockchain and performance. Titled Ángel Yōkai Atā, their new work for Helsinki Biennial encompasses both physical and digital elements: a sound piece will create an ambient backdrop for the island’s Lime Tree Avenue; a sculptural house on the water’s edge for “angels and spirits”, inspired by Japanese spirit houses, Mexican Ofrendas, Spanish shrines, and northern European pagan traditions; and an online interactive experience which will allow viewers to virtually walk inside the spirit house and into a new world.
New Directions May Emerge will have a significant digital presence, featuring six online artworks. Working in conjunction with the Digital Visual Studies, a Max Planck Society project hosted at the University of Zurich, Yehwan Song has developed a website that will enable viewers to engage with an innovative A.I Entity and navigate a 3D map of Helsinki Art Museum's art collection. Responding to data from artworks and geolocations, the algorithm curates new and often unexpected artwork groupings from the collection, creating a blended curatorial vision through the input of artificial intelligence, Biennial visitors, the city itself and HAM’s artworks.
From Spring 2023, Arja Miller joins as the new director for Helsinki Biennial and HAM Helsinki Art Museum. Moving to the role from her previous position as the chief curator at EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art in Finland, Miller comments:
‘I am proud that Helsinki Biennial, a relatively young addition to the art world, is leading the way in environmentally responsible and socially sustainable values. The artists and artworks participating in this second edition are directly responding to the world around us, employing a future-orientated vision which is at the core of the biennial itself. We hope audiences will be prompted to explore how art and artists can give us new perspectives on the global challenges we are facing.'
Helsinki Biennial 2023 comprises exhibitions, a discursive and performative public programme, film screenings, publications, and an online programme. The programme supports the biennial’s three main conceptual threads: contamination, regeneration and agency, and includes projects created by the curatorial collaborators Critical Environmental Data, Museum of Impossible Forms, and ViCCA@Aalto Arts, as well as participating artists.
Notes to Editors
Helsinki Biennial is an international contemporary art event which takes place on Vallisaari Island and extends to other locations on the mainland. Informed by Vallisaari – a former military island fusing wild nature and urban heritage – sustainable and responsible values lie at the core of Helsinki Biennial. Each edition includes major site-specific commissions by leading international artists. Helsinki Biennial embodies the city’s ambitious cultural vision, committed to developing Helsinki’s art scene both on a grassroots and institutional level. A major initiative of the City of Helsinki, the Biennial is produced by HAM Helsinki Art Museum. Its inaugural edition in 2021, ‘The Same Sea’, was curated by HAM’s head curators Pirkko Siitari and Taru Tappola. www.helsinkibiennial.fi
Arja Miller, director of Helsinki Biennial and Helsinki Art Museum (HAM)
Arja Miller joined Helsinki Art Museum (HAM) and Helsinki Biennial as director in March 2023. Prior to this, she was Chief Curator of EMMA, Espoo Museum of Modern Art (2017-2023) and Chief Curator of Collections at Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art (2008-2017).
Her curatorial work includes numerous solo exhibitions for prominent artists such as Elmgreen & Dragset, Chiharu Shiota, Daniel Buren, Tatsuo Miyajima and Alicja Kwade. Miller has also organized thematic group exhibitions, including "In Search of the Present" at EMMA, which explored the relationship between art, technology, and nature. She has co-curated major international group shows at Kiasma, such as ARS11 and ARS17, which focused on contemporary African art and artists' responses to the digital revolution, respectively. An accomplished writer, her areas of focus include museums as discursive spaces, installation art, new media art, and the intersections of art, sound, and music. She holds a Master of Arts degree from the University of Helsinki (1997) and a qualification in Business management in the museum context from the Management Institute of Finland (2012-2014).
Joasia Krysa, curator of Helsinki Biennial 2023
Joasia Krysa is a curator and academic working at the intersection of contemporary art and technology. She is Professor of Exhibition Research and Head of Art and Design at Liverpool John Moores University. Between 2012–2015 she was Artistic Director of Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. She was part of the curatorial team for Documenta 13 (2012), and co-curator of the 9th Liverpool Biennial (2016). Past projects have been presented at, amongst others, The Whitney Museum of American Art, ZKM Center for Art and Media, and Tate Modern. Her current research focuses on AI and curating.
Critical Environmental Data, a research group at Aarhus University, exploring nature as data and the many possible futures that might emerge.
Museum of Impossible Forms (MIF) a cultural centre located in Kontula, East Helsinki, and the coming together of communities of art and cultural workers working to build anticolonial, antipatriarchal, and non-fascist practices and futures.
TBA21-Academy, a contemporary art organization and cultural ecosystem fostering a deeper relationship to the Ocean through the lens of art to inspire care and action.
ViCCA @ Aalto ARTS, Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art (ViCCA), a transdisciplinary major at Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design and Architecture.
A.I. Entity, created as a collaboration between HAM Helsinki Art Museum Collections, artist Yehwan Song and the Digital Visual Studies, a Max Planck Society project hosted at the University of Zurich.
The Helsinki Biennial 2023 visual presentation is a collaboration between graphic design studio The Rodina and spatial consultants Diogo Passarinho Studio (Team: Diogo Passarinho and Gonçalo Reynolds).
The main partners of Helsinki Biennial include Metsähallitus, S Group and Clear Channel. It is also supported by Saastamoinen Foundation.
Helsinki Biennial 2023 co-commissioners include Copenhagen Contemporary, KANAL – Centre Pompidou, TBA21-Academy, and University of Zurich.
With thanks to Aalto University, Aarhus University, British Council, British Embassy Helsinki, Frame Contemporary Art Finland, Liverpool John Moores University, MO.CO.ESBA Montpellier Contemporain - Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Uniarts Helsinki, and Uniarts Research Pavilion.
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Latest releases from HAM Helsingin taidemuseo
INBJUDAN: Helsingforsbiennalens pressdag torsdag 8.6 från och med kl. 10 på HAM Helsingfors konstmuseum och Skanslandet25.5.2023 13:00:00 EEST | Kutsu
Evenemanget för samtidskonst Helsingforsbiennalen öppnar för allmänheten söndagen den 11 juni på Skanslandet och Helsingfors konstmuseum HAM. Evenemanget sprider sig också under sommaren till olika ställen runt om i staden. Det presenterar ungefär 30 internationella konstnärer och konstnärsgrupper. Helsingforsbiennalen 2023 behandlar med konstens hjälp vår tids brinnande frågor, såsom minskad biologisk mångfald, politiska sammanstötningar och effekter av ny teknologi. Underrubriken Nya riktningar kan uppstå hänvisar till ett alternativt sätt att leva i och förstå världen – samt föreställa sig andra möjliga framtider. Nästan hälften av verken är alldeles nya och aldrig tidigare skådade som skapats enkom för utställningens förevisningsplatser.
INVITATION: Helsinki Biennial’s press day on Thursday 8 June beginning at 10 a.m. at HAM Helsinki Art Museum and Vallisaari Island25.5.2023 13:00:00 EEST | Press Invitation
The contemporary art event Helsinki Biennial 2023 will open to the public on Sunday 11 June on Vallisaari Island and at HAM Helsinki Art Museum. Additionally, the event will spread across the city throughout the summer. The biennial will present around 30 international artists and collectives. Through art, Helsinki Biennial 2023 reflects on some of the major issues of our time, such as the loss of biodiversity, political conflicts, and the impact of new technologies. The biennial’s title, New Directions May Emerge, refers to alternative ways of living in and understanding the world, whilst envisioning other potential futures. Approximately half of the works are new commissions.
Helsinki Biennaalin mediatilaisuus to 8.6. klo 10 HAM Helsingin taidemuseossa ja Vallisaaressa25.5.2023 13:00:00 EEST | Kutsu
Nykytaidetapahtuma Helsinki Biennaali 2023 avautuu yleisölle sunnuntaina 11.6. Vallisaaressa ja HAM Helsingin taidemuseossa. Tapahtuma levittäytyy kesän aikana myös muualle kaupunkiin. Nykytaidetapahtuma esittelee noin 30 kansainvälistä taiteilijaa ja taiteilijaryhmää. Helsinki Biennaali 2023 käsittelee taiteen kautta aikamme polttavia kysymyksiä, kuten luonnon monimuotoisuuden vähenemistä, poliittisia yhteentörmäyksiä ja uusien teknologioiden vaikutuksia. Alaotsikko Uusia suuntia voi syntyä viittaa vaihtoehtoiseen tapaan elää maailmassa ja ymmärtää sitä – sekä kuvitella muita mahdollisia tulevaisuuksia. Teoksista noin puolet on täysin uusia ja ennenkokemattomia ja varta vasten näyttelyn esityspaikkoihin tehtyjä.
Milla Aska: Swirls, HAM gallery 10.6.–30.7.202325.5.2023 09:00:00 EEST | Press release
Milla Aska’s Swirls is an exhibition of whirls, dizzy sensations and spinning gazes. In Swirls, paintings and crayon pencil drawings’ misty surfaces veil figures that emerge slowly from beneath the layers, looking for their shapes. In Aska’s observations, indescribable bodily feelings are connected to strokes that explore surfaces and to outlines that fade away quietly.
Milla Aska: Swirls, HAM galleriet 10.6.2023-30.7.202325.5.2023 09:00:00 EEST | Tiedote
Swirls av Milla Aska är en utställning med virvlande, hisnande sinnesförnimmelser och snurrande synintryck. Under sitt månglagrade innersta döljer de diffusa ytorna på målningarna ochfärgpennsteckningarnafigurer som långsamt blottläggs sökande sina former. I Askas observationer kopplas icke verbaliserade kroppsliga känslor samman med penseldrag som utforskar ytorna och konturer som stilla förflyktigas.
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