Max Hannus, MFA, freelance curator, writer with an interest in the interfaces of desire, human relationships and the making of art
Transl. Soili Petäjäniemi
My life was a burning illusion. But one thing I have found and one thing I have really won – the road to the land that is not.
I’m passing time and dreaming. In my dreams I become attuned to another kind of reality for a moment. I imagine another time which I call the future. Something is coming.
‘Dreamy’ is an exhibition where dreams, fantasies, nightmares, visions, and scenes are seen as signs of queerness existing in the world and of the potential for sharing, finding common ground. How has art documented queer time over time? And how can we, as viewers of art, find entry to something we couldn’t even dream of? Queer time opposes itself to the linear time of order. It is outside chronology, another reality and parallel to straight time. Artworks created in various decades settle in their unique ways into queer time, where they trace and create new dreams and seek pleasure. ‘Dreamy’ is a collection drawn from queer time.
For the exhibition I went through almost 9,000 pieces in the collection of the Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. As I was looking through the collection, I thought about why certain works caught my attention, while others did not. On what grounds was I choosing the pieces for ‘Dreamy’? I mulled over the question of when an artwork can be considered queer. I set as a point of departure that queerness is life as lived rather than a particular visuality – that an artwork is not queer unless it relates to the experiences of the artist and the social conditions in which the artist operates. I thought it is important to reflect on the positions of the artist and the different crossroads at which the works are constructed.
While studying the collection I also considered different questions concerning representation. Which artists’ works can be found in the collection and which artists are omitted? Who has more works there, who less? I observed that a large percentage of the artists included in the collection whom I recognised as living queer lives were homosexual men, or assumed by me to be so. There were considerably fewer women represented, as were the non-binary identities. The Finnish National Gallery’s statistics follow three options on the gender of artists, but listing is a tricky business because it begs the question: what criteria are used in making the list and how often is it revised? Is it, for instance, relevant to document statistically the gender of artists who have already died, if they themselves were never asked how they identified in terms of gender?
 Edith Södergran. ‘The Land That Is Not’, in Complete Poems. Newcastle: Bloodaxe Books, 1984 (1925). Transl. David McDuff. The author’s reference is to the poem ‘Maa jota ei ole’ (1925). Transl. Uuno Kailas.
 José Esteban Muñoz. Cruising Utopia. The Then and There of Queer Futurity. New York: New York University Press, 2009, 25.
Featured image: Jacolby Satterwhite, En Plein Air: Music of Objective Romance: Track #1 Healing in My House, 2016, video, duration 9min 27sec. Finnish National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Photo: Finnish National Gallery
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