The Helsinki Biennial contemporary art event will begin on Sunday at Vallisaari bringing together 29 international artists and collectives in locations throughout the city, said the City of Helsinki in a press release on Thursday.
The Biennial will explore some of the pressing issues, addressing environmental damage and the impact of technology.
Over half of the works are entirely new commissions and site-specific works, encompassing installations, sculpture, films and performances.
Helsinki Biennial returns for the second time to Vallisaari, a former military island off the coast that is the most diverse natural and recreational destination in the Helsinki archipelago. Fifteen artworks will be situated on the island, both outdoors and within its historical gunpowder cellars.
Back on land at the HAM Helsinki Art Museum, works by Diana Policarpo, Bita Razavi, Tabita Rezaire, Tuula Närhinen and INTERPRT will take over the large arched halls.
Bita Razavi’s participatory sculptural work considers the political and colonial structures of different countries. Diana Policarpo’s installation consists of massive, rock-shaped sculptures with embedded video and sound which investigate how humans treat the world as their property.
Tuula Närhinen depicts in her art the river as a cyclical time machine and an archive of human life that is shaped by nature.
Tabita Rezaire highlights water’s complex narratives by examining how the submarine fibre optic cables that transfer digital data are layered upon old colonial shipping routes. INTERPRT’s new work is a case study which explores the histories of for example state violence.
The main exhibitions will be complemented by events, performances, workshops and discussions throughout the summer.
Located in the city’s Market Square, Dineo Seshee Bopape’s new work seeks to find a path to remembering and re-membering through fragmented parts of personal and collective family histories.
Sonya Lindfors’ new collaborative artwork, which can be described as a ‘social choreography’, takes place across several sites around central Helsinki and is in collaboration with BIPOC artists and volunteers.
Created as a collaboration between anthropologists Yen-Ling Tsai and Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, filmmaker Isabelle Carbonell, and farmer and translator Joelle Chevrier, the Golden Snail Opera is a multispecies enactment of experimental natural history. The opera incorporates percussion from Yilan opera, combining it with the noises of snails, water, birds, and other beings, and will be staged at the Helsinki Central Library Oodi in June and August.
Critical Environmental Data will create six audio stories that listeners can follow across various in-person locations in Helsinki or online. Museum of Impossible Forms will develop for example the Biennial’s discursive program of lectures, screenings, performances. Aalto University students will also organise a series of collective experiences on the Biennial theme, and a website that combines HAM’s collection with machine learning technology will invite users to explore new groupings from the collection based on geolocations and machine-made metrics.
The Helsinki Biennial will continue on the Vallisaari island until 17 September 2023 and at the HAM Helsinki Art Museum until 22 October.