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Exhibition brings together 26 artists from the eastern Baltic Sea region
Flo Kasearu, KUVA Kansallisgalleria/Hannu Pakarinen. Photo: Finnish National Gallery/Hannu Pakarinen.

HELSINKI.- The exhibition There and Back Again brings together 26 artists from the eastern Baltic Sea region: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Finland and Russia. This collection exhibition of Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma explores the themes of identity, belonging and memory through the metaphor of travel. The title, There and Back Again, refers both to physical travel and to the various internal journeys traversed by working artists.

The artworks in the exhibition reflect a time characterised by the mobility of people, goods and labour, but also by tensions between superpowers. The Soviet era with its restrictions, traumas and memories looms in the background. Many of the artists grew up in the Baltic region in the 1980s and 90s, and experienced their countries’ reindependence. Many have studied and worked outside of their homeland, some in Finland.

“The Baltic region is more news-worthy than it has been for a long time. The region’s economy and its management have played a central role, ever since the time of the commercial alliance of Hanseatic towns and all the way to the modern cities joined together by the Via Baltica. The Baltic Sea has become the object of many intersecting economic, political and cultural interests”, Museum Director Leevi Haapala writes in the exhibition catalogue.

Curators of the exhibition, Kati Kivinen and Saara Hacklin, describe the thematic core of the exhibition: the topics of travel and migration on the one hand, and issues related to identity, attachment and belonging on the other. The theme of physical and mental journeys is approached by several artists, like Flo Kasearu, Karel Koplimets or Jaan Toomik. Another reoccurring subject of the exhibition is identity. It is built out of individuals’ narratives about themselves and others. Particularly in present-day discourse, identity is no longer seen as homogeneous or permanent, but fragmented and changeable, not to mention conflicting. Identity is linked to the question of what we value; what do we dedicate ourselves to or turn to in times of need? These questions are reflected in the works of Artor Jesus Inkerö, Daria Melnikova and Jaanus Samma. Besides identity, belonging is another central concept, dealt for instance in the works of Roma Auškalnyte, Katrīna Neiburga or Jenni Yppärilä. Belonging refers simultaneously to the human experiences of attachment and kinship – the feeling that a place or community is one’s own. The theme of belonging is often linked to longing for a real or imagined location or group of people, but can conversely also be used to explore rebellion against externally set boundaries.

Artists: Tanya Akhmetgalieva, Roma Auškalnyte, Miķelis Fišers, Alexei Gordin, Artor Jesus Inkerö, Alge Julija Kavaliauskaitė, Flo Kasearu, Tiina Ketara, Karel Koplimets, Kris Lemsalu, Inga Meldere, Daria Melnikova, Mindaugas Navakas, Katrīna Neiburga, Jüri Okas, Anna Reivilä, Jaanus Samma, Tea Tammelaan, Maria Toboła, Jaan Toomik, Gintautas Trimakas & Nomeda Urbonienė & Elena Valiukaitė, Gediminas Urbonas, Jenni Yppärilä, Darius Žiūra.

The exhibited works are drawn from the collections of Kiasma / The Finnish National Gallery, for which art from Finland’s surrounding areas has been acquired since the 1990s. The main emphasis of the exhibition is on young artists and works from recent years. Most of the works are now exhibited in Kiasma for the first time.

The exhibition includes a publication There and Back Again – Contemporary Art from the Baltic Sea Region with foreword by director Leevi Haapala, articles by Saara Hacklin & Kati Kivinen and Maritta Mellais, as well as invited authors Rebeka Põldsam, Evelyn Raudsepp and Maija Rudovska.

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