The First Helsinki Biennial is being held from 12 June to 26 September 2021, surrounded by the one-of-a-kind natural environment of the former military island of Vallisaari. The name of the first biennale, The Same Sea, is a reminder that everything is connected to everything else and therefore mutually dependent.
The island is located in the open sea, not far from Helsinki, and is a natural reserve: its unique natural environment and the ruins of its historical structures are inviolable. The Helsinki Biennale is founded on principles of careful and responsible interaction with the surrounding nature, and the exhibitions shown on Vallisaari have been installed with the utmost care for the needs of the environment.
The artists participating in the biennale created their works on Vallisaari itself, inspired by its picturesque and wild nature. The island provides the themes for contemplation, helping to crystallise the various concepts of interconnection and mutual dependence. Among these themes are the relationship between humans and nature, time and transformation, borders and identity, and kinship and empathy.
On August 26, at the online-gathering with Helsinki Biennale director Maija Tanninen-Mattila and curators Pirkko Siitari and Taru Tappola, we will discuss how the exhibition was organised, how the curatorial themes were developed, the impact of the biennale, and plans for the immediate future.
The discussion will be moderated by Anna Kirikova, director’s adviser on international cooperation (Manege).
The discussion will be held in English, with simultaneous interpretation into Russian.
Director Maija Tanninen-Mattila has a long and diverse background in the visual arts, museums and audience engagement. She has led a variety of visual arts institutions: Ateneum Art Museum, the Finnish National Gallery (2006-2013) and the Helsinki Kunsthalle (2001-2006). Currently she is Director of HAM the Helsinki Art Museum (2013-). HAM is one of the largest art museums in the Nordic countries with a collection of approximately 9 000 artworks. In addition to an extensive international exhibition programme and collection, HAM is responsible for public art in Helsinki. The latest addition to HAM’s program is the Helsinki Biennial which takes place on the island of Vallisaari.
Pirkko Siitari is the Head of Exhibitions at HAM. She previously directed various institutions including Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki (2010-2015), where she also worked as a chief curator (2008-2010), Kerava Art Museum (2004-2008) and the Northern Photographic Centre in Oulu (1990s). Siitari was also the chief curator of the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki (1999-2004). Past curatorial projects include, among others, Katharina Grosse, Chill Seeping from the Walls Gets between Us, HAM (2021), Paweł Althamer, I (am), HAM (2019), Nature as a Playground, Museum of Photography, Seoul (2018), Alfredo Jaar, Kiasma (2014), and ARS11, Kiasma (2011). She studied Art History and History at the Jyväskylä University and Art Theory at Jan van Eyck Akademi, Maastricht, Netherlands.
Since 2017, Taru Tappola has been the Head of Public Art at HAM Helsinki Art Museum, leading a team that commissions public artworks for the City of Helsinki. She formerly worked as Curator of Exhibitions at Helsinki Art Museum (2001-2003), Kunsthalle Helsinki (2004-2006) and KiasmaMuseum of Contemporary Art (2006-2009), curating numerous international and Finnish contemporary art exhibitions. Tappola further developed her professional background in curating, mediating art and engaging audiences as the interim director of KunsthalleHelsinki (2010-11) and Head of Education at HAM (2013-17). She studied Art History at the University of Helsinki.
The discussion will be conducted over Zoom. Participation is free, but you must first register and install the Zoom platform. An hour before the meeting, you will receive a link by e-mail (sent to the address indicated at registration) through which you can join the conference.
The event is organised together with The Finnish Institute in St. Petersburg.
Partner for Manege’s educational programme — The Mikhail Bazhenov Foundation.
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