Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala

Nostalgia, an entity of works by Jaakko Niemelä to be exhibited in HAM


The Nostalgia exhibition by visual artist Jaakko Niemelä is the striking final part of a research project focused on seafaring and the artist’s own memories of his father. The artist has followed in the footsteps of his father, Sea Captain Erkki Niemelä, on oceanliners and learned more about the places he visited. Niemelä has used the material he has been collecting since 2012 to make a new and spatially impressive installation in the arched hall on the upper level of HAM.

The entity of works connects with the central themes of Jaakko Niemelä’s art: the breaking down of large structures, collapse, destruction and decadence. On a personal level, the art deals with letting go and longing. Often, installations are at the core of Niemelä’s art. In addition to structures, key elements include light and water.

Nostalgia is a never-ending performance, where things happen in a predetermined order. The large size, soundscape and dramatic presentation of the exhibition are inspired by the world of opera. It is centred around massive structures that reach great heights. Their shadows create a dynamic movement. Two video animations, projected in large scale, depict the fierce storm encountered by an oceanliner (The Seventh Wave) and the final collapse (Nostalghia). The sounds in the exhibition consist of a grandiose choir piece by baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti and ambient music composed by Jaakko Niemelä’s nephew Antti Niemelä. A tree is raining water in the animated video documentary (Departure).

“I am a sea captain’s son. My father was often absent when I was a child. That is why I never really got to know him well. When my father came home after his career ended, he fell ill with dementia and lost his ability to speak. My father died in 1985 when I was 26. I have since come to understand that his absence and death have had a major impact on my life. This experience has also affected my artistic expression and choices of subject matter. In my art, core themes include longing, sorrow and fear,” Jaakko Niemelä says.

The first piece in the Nostalgia project was exhibited at Lönnström Art Museum in Rauma in 2014. Since then, the project has been exhibited in the Paarlastipuisto park of the Rauma Maritime Museum and Kunstplass galleria in Oslo in 2017. The most recent versions of the project have been exhibited in the Studio of Turku Art Museum and on the roof of the Oslo Opera House in autumn 2018. The installation exhibited at HAM is the grande finale of the entire Nostalgia project – the latest and greatest exhibition.

Jaakko Niemelä (b. 1959) lives and works in Helsinki as well as in his birthplace of Rauma. Across his long career, the artist has expanded his expression from graphic arts to spatial, light and video works as well as public works of art. He has had numerous solo exhibitions and participated in joint exhibitions both in Finland and abroad. Niemelä has also worked with his wife, sculptor Helena Hietanen. Jaakko Niemelä will be participating in the Helsinki Biennial, to be held on Vallisaari in the summer of 2020.

The exhibition has been curated by HAM curator Heli Harni. The exhibition has received support from Kone Foundation and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation.

Jaakko Niemelä – Nostalgia / HAM Helsinki Art Museum 14 December 2019–15 March 2020

Press photos:
www.hamhelsinki.fi/info/medialle (password: hammedia).

HAM Helsinki Art Museum
Tennispalatsi, Eteläinen Rautatiekatu 8, 2nd floor
Open: Tue–Sun 11 am–7 pm, Mon closed
Tickets: €12/10, free entry for under 18s


Head of Exhibitions Pirkko Siitari, HAM, tel. +358 (0)40 590 8803, pirkko.siitari@hel.fi
Curator Heli Harni, HAM, tel. +358 (0)40 334 6071, heli.harni@hel.fi



About Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala

Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala
Helsingin kaupunki, kulttuurin ja vapaa-ajan toimiala


HAM Helsinki Art Museum

HAM Helsinki Art Museum looks after an art collection that belongs to the people of Helsinki, which includes over 9,000 individual works of art. HAM maintains and accrues this art collection, which also includes the city’s public artworks. In its domestic and international exhibitions held at Tennis Palace, HAM showcases modern and contemporary art. HAM Helsinki Art Museum

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