IHME Recommends: Summer of art 2016

IHME Expert Team 2016Expert team of Pro Arte Foundation Finland, from left: Hanna Johansson, Paula Toppila, Timo Valjakka, Tuula Arkio and Leevi Haapala. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

Summer is here, and so are the summer’s exhibitions, most of which can still be seen as the holiday season ends in early September. There are art offerings both in exhibition spaces and outdoors in parks and at festivals. Whether you are heading for a summer cottage in Finland or for a city stay in continental Europe, get the most from IHME’s expert team’s tips on the most interesting art exhibitions.

Workgroup as a forum for conversation

The members of the Festival’s expert team are art professionals and long-standing key figures on the art scene. The workgroup’s chair, Counsellor for Cultural Affairs and Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Tuula Arkio, was the first Director of Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki and then Director General of the Finnish National Gallery. Kiasma’s current Director, Leevi Haapala, is also one of the five-person workgroup.

Ever since it began operations, the driving forces behind IHME have also included critic and curator Timo Valjakka and researcher Hanna Johansson, currently teaching on the Praxis Master’s Programme in Exhibition Studies at the Academy of Fine Arts. Curator and Executive Director of IHME Paula Toppila acts as a liaison between the expert team that sets the guidelines for IHME’s operations and the Festival office, which is responsible for their implementation.

The workgroup, which meets six times a year, chooses the artist for the annual commissioned artwork, plans the contents of the Festival’s programme, and develops IHME’s operations. “Each of the expert team’s members brings their own expertise and vision to the choices of artists and to decisions affecting the rest of  the Festival programme. It is important to discuss the focal points and goals of our operations, and also to involve people who can hold divergent views on the issues,” says Paula Toppila.

Summer exhibitions from Mikkeli to Zürich

Where can you experience the summer’s most talked-about contemporary art? The expert group’s recommendations point the way.

Tuula Arkio:

“In Finland it is well worth seeing the Finnish Landscape exhibition arranged by Checkpoint Helsinki and curated by Joanna Warsza at Seurasaari Open-Air Museum. It includes several excellent works from Finnish and foreign artists. The works conduct a dialogue with the buildings and the environment, and open up new layers of the open-air museum’s contents.

“Exhibitions abroad with interesting themes include curator Christian Jankowski’s Manifesta 11, What People Do for Money: Some Joint Ventures, in Zürich. This focuses on the relationship between artistic work and traditional work, and the participating artists have worked with local people from various professional backgrounds. The exhibition also extends to people’s workplaces.”

Finnish Landscape at Seurasaari Open-Air Museum until August 31, Mon–Sun at 11:00–17:00

Manifesta 11 The European biennial of contemporary art: What People Do for Money – Some Joint Ventures in Zürich until September 18

Hanna Johansson:

“The theme of Mikkeli Art Museum’s summer exhibition Painting of the Mind is the relationship between current Finnish art and the legacy of landscape art. The exhibition is an ambitious attempt to use today’s means to understand the boundary conditions of this art genre, which is a major preoccupation of contemporary artists. The exhibition does not contain a single painting, even though many of the works in it consciously refer to the tradition of landscape painting. The exhibition asks: What is the smallest possible mark that makes a graphic print, photograph or video into a landscape work.”

Painting of the Mind – Maiseman nykykuva at Mikkeli Art Museum summer season until September 11, Tues, Thurs, Fri, Sun at 10:00–17:00, Wed 12:00–19:00 and Sat 10:00–13:00

Paula Toppila:

“After a long break, the Sonsbeek ’16 exhibition of public art has again been staged in Park Sonsbeek and the city of Arnhem in Holland. The event was inaugurated in 1949, and Valerie Smith’s 1993 compilation is still considered a classic. This year’s exhibition has been curated by the Indonesian artist group ruangrupa, whose starting points are in the local colonialist history. I want to see this! In Finland Mänttä Art Week and the Purnu Summer Exhibition are a part of summer, but I would also be curious to see how contemporary art makes an appearance at the Flow and H2Ö festivals – I wish I could read even the reviews of these!“

SONSBEEK ’16: transACTION in Arnheim until September 18, Tue–Sun at 11:00–17:00

XXI Mänttä Art Festival at Pekilo in Mänttä until August 31 daily at 10:00–18:00

Purnu 2016: Freehand at the Art Centre Purnu in Orivesi until August 7 (for groups until August 28) daily at 11:00–18:00

H2Ö at the Ruissalo dockyard in Turku on July 22nd–23rd

Flow Festival in the historic power plant area of Suvilahti in Helsinki on August 12–14

Timo Valjakka:

“The retrospective exhibition of the British artist Mark Wallinger at Art Museum Gösta in Mänttä is showing some forty works by this artist who switches effortlessly from one medium to another and refuses to repeat himself. But the focal point is always the human being: Who are we, and why are we like we are?

The final year students at the Institute of Fine Arts Lahti knew four years ago that they would be the last at the school, which is due to be closed. The exhibition, hung in Lahti Art Museum and bearing the ironic title The Most Productive Unit, easily emerges as this spring’s best exhibition of degree works, above all, thanks to its powerful underlying charge. These 13 young artists decided to show what they can do, and they have succeeded. They had good reason to do so.”

Mark Wallinger: Mark until October 9 at Art Museum Gösta in Mänttä during the summer until August 31, daily 10–18, winter hours starting September 1, Tues–Sun at 11–18

The Most Productive Unit at Lahti Art Museum until August 20, Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri at 9–17, Sat–Sun at 11–16