11/06-31/08/2016 Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, Helsinki, Finland

Finnish Landscape – Contemporary Art at Seurasaari Open-Air Museum

Artists: Ahmed Al-Nawas & Minna Henriksson, Kader Attia, Erik BruunAnnika Eriksson, Natascha Sadr Haghighian with Haig Aivazian & Jumana Manna, Ilya Orlov, Liisa Roberts. Special guest: Clémentine Deliss.

Curator: Joanna Warsza

During Bertolt Brecht’s years in exile in the Nordic countries during II World War, when he wrote endlessly about political struggles, he suddenly turned to picturing the landscapes of Scandinavia. His sensual sonnet Finnische Landschaft (1940), written in Finland’s Kymi Province, contemplates the clean waters, farmhouses and activities of this people that he described as being “silent in two languages”. But even the most pastoral landscape is always also social and political. As Brecht explained: “silence” referred also to mechanisms of idealisation, conciliatory rhetoric and fear of action at various stages of Finnish history.

The summer-long exhibition Finnish Landscape responds to the array of cultural and political landscapes embedded in the heterotopic scenery of Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, founded on an island near Helsinki in 1909. The museum grew out of ethnographic nationalism and political romanticism, its rural houses relocated from various regions combining to form a ‘little Finland’. The idea was to idealize the countryside, to create a new regionalism, and to tell a different story that opposed both Russification and Swedish dominance. Then, after World War II, rapid modernization meant that Finland lost interest in self-identifying with its agrarian past, and modernity suppressed links with its rural foundations.

In summer 2016, a number of artists will intervene in the museum site, in its displays, houses and collections. The various projects will deal with the concepts of conservation and destruction, nature and culture, ethnography and post-ethnography, historical use and misuse, and finally with the subtle difference between building an identity and branding an identity in the current Finnish cultural and political landscape.

See the schedule for the public programme from here.

Exhibition and public programme: 11 June-31 August 2016, Seurasaari Open-Air Museum


In collaboration with:

The exhibition is supported by:

Koneen Säätiö Taiteen edistämiskeskus Svenska kulturfonden Goethe Instituutti Cultura
Top image: from Annika Eriksson's video work Past Lives Selector (2016).

Other images from top to bottom:

Kader Attia: Mimesis as Resistance (sound- and videoinstallations 2013-2016, at the Kahiluoto manor's park)

Ilya Orlov: A House with the View (installation 2016, Kahiluoto manor)

Ahmed Al-Nawas & Minna Henriksson: Valkeat (installation 2016, Festive Grounds ja Florin summer house)

Liisa Roberts: Remnants (photographs 2011-2016, different guest rooms)

Natascha Sadr Haghighian, Jumana Manna & Haig Aivazian: Accounts of Things and People that Have Been Moved (installaatio 2016, Backyard of the Iisalmi patronage)

Annika Eriksson: Past Lives Selector (video 2016, Antti)

Erik Bruun: exhibition poster (2016)

Photos: Noora Geagea.