I went to see the art exhibition 7th Wave at the Korundi Art Museum offering a wide and intriguing selection of art purchases from the Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation Art Collection. The curator of the exhibition is Jukka Mäkelä, and he has truly managed to create a coherent combination that gives the viewer an immense experience that lasts for long. The name of the exhibition, 7th Wave, which refers to the common folklore legend of the seventh wave being the highest and biggest, can be linked to the magnitude of the chosen works from the Wihuri collection and the 70th anniversary of the foundation. The exhibition serves as a portrait of the finnish contemporary art scene from the 80’s to the present day.
I visited the exhibition on a sunny Sunday two weeks ago and amazingly was the ONLY customer – I enjoyed fully being there by myself but also it made me sad to realize that apparently people do not visit the art museum here. Walking around the vast museum space all alone, the experience felt really meaningful and private. I spend a lot of time downstairs, where there was an installation of one of my favorite artists, Pekka Jylhä (shown in the photo), where a pig stares into a wall of mirrors and contemplates deep thoughts. As it is the purpose of art, for me the piece links to also many current themes in my life, concerning the consumerism of our society and the horrendous meat industry.
In addition, I have lately given some serious thought to the artificial concept of gender and Stiina Saaristo had two huge drawings in the exhibition, where in the first one there is a grown-up woman dressed in her underwear holding action-man figures in her hands an in the other one there is a naked man with a pronounced but flaccid penis, holding Barbie-dolls in his hands. What do I mean by saying that the concept of gender is artificial? If we really start to think how the society has defined and keeps on dividing sexuality and gender in political, medical, psychological, criminal and biological terms, we can see how everyone of us has been turned into a tool of control for that binary opposition pair of normal vs. abnormal; and male vs. female. It comes so easily to us that boys like rough games and mathematics and girls the colour pink and princess role games, when in fact we should think whether it is our own behaviour as educators, parents and members of the society that predisposes children to think within the same perimeters. We have become a part of a powerful, self-regulating peer-control system, where anything out of the norm becomes easily condemned.
I came face-to-face with this blindness towards this when my teacher friend told me of a conversation that took place at her school, where a female mathematics teacher had talked about a male student as follows (roughly according to my memory): ”Matti (name changed) told me that he is interested in becoming a physician, I mean, c’mon, I think the boy has a make-up purse of his own and the feminine hand gestures…”. For me, her comments are from another world but a good reminder that this kind of people are really out there, educating children and expressing these kind of thoughts in her everyday rhetorics. Phew. Down to the bottom line: if you think along these lines, the more probable it is that it reproduces the same thinking pattern and the way we perceive the world. I think that if I would teach students keeping in mind all the time that boys are not that keen on art as a subject, the result will most definitely be that the boys are not that that interested. ”Being gay is a crime”, ”Faggots wear pink shirts”, ”Women talk more than men” or ”Men are better drivers” – facing this kind of utterances in every day life that reveal the thoughts that underlie in our society, makes me sick. I do not mean that the thinker of these thoughts is a horrible monster but the system that enforces this kind of thinking is.
Media, for example, has taken a dominant role in the contemporary society as a enforcer of the normative and unfortunately, we do not have the necessary tools to interpret the information conjured by the vastness of images offering us the norm of identity – and where there is norm, there is the opposite: abnormal. Look at these photos, in which the UN has combined Google search results concerning word women with facial images of women. As you can see, this subject is close to my heart and only by standing in front of the works of Saaristo, these thoughts flooded my mind and have stayed there ever since. We easily perceive the characters pictured in her works as something out of the norm, a mature female playing with action figures as a curiosity but the male holding the barbie dolls already as a freak (masculine representation does not stand as much questioning as the female representation without losing its normativity).
Here is some photos of me and my both godsons just to give you a visual representation on how we already establish the gender from the first days after babies are is born. The division in the children’s clothes department is very clear, patterns and colors are divided into boy’s section and girl’s section and nothing in between.
I spent the last weekend in Turku: I took the train on a beautiful Wednesday night and the moon on the sky was so big and the horizon so enticing painted in pink by the disappearing sun. After arriving to Turku, I saw my friend Marja almost straight away and we went the Turku Art Museum, where there was the Abendland exhibition by the duo IC-98 (that was nominated as one of the four Ars Fennica candidates yesterday!). The exhibition is outstanding, and I feel really fortunate to have experienced both this and Vesala’s the Young Artist of the Year exhibition in Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova (already mentioned in an earlier post). The Abendland is not to be experienced within a tight timetable, it takes a lot of time and unfolds slowly – something to my liking. It is a collection of documentation of the process and pieces done with different techniques. In the first exhibition room there are two pieces that invite the viewer to play a little with them, and consequently Marja broke the other piece, where the viewer is expected to make a miniature of a city to rotate and see it it reflected on a wall – so Marja broke the society by trying to make it spin clockwise and anti-clockwise (that’s the way it goes in real life as well!). The most capturing pieces for me are the two animations that unfold to the viewer by subtly changing (the duration is approx. 20 minutes and 70 minutes a piece) and what a shame it was to discover that most of the museum visitor did not have the patience to stay and see what is going on in the pieces: instead they came to the room, hastily glanced at the screen and then continued their tour (some even uttering: ”there’s nothing happening here”). Maybe it is difficult for us nowadays to slow down and stop for seventy minutes to take in the whole thing, we have been to accustomed in the rapid pace of the TV-series and other multimedia that requires fast response and effects that are designed to keep the interest of the viewer (BUY THIS! BUY THAT! BUY!). The animations by IC-98 gave me a strong feeling of inevitability when watching a scene developing slowly in front of my eyes, going through a metamorphosis predestined by the artists – I reached a state that could be described as meditative in its nature.
After indulging ourselves with the Abendland, we continued to indulge ourselves with proper wine, so we headed to Tintå, where I had already planned on having a glass of the Boom-Boom (syrah wine from the same producer than the Kung-Fu Girl riesling already mentioned in my blog earlier) but unfortunately they only serve it in bottles and because I have a low tolerance for alcohol, sharing one bottle with Marja would have led to a disastrous outcome, so I took a glass of riesling whitey. Next time when I go Turku, which is in three weeks time, I am determined going there with my man (who can have several glasses without being tipsy = spanish alcohol tolerance) and emptying a bottle of Boom-Boom, a report will follow!
The preaching that I started with my pondering over the artificiality of gender is continued in the music links of today’s post: The Voice, like Marja titled in spanish: La Voz.