Gill Crabbe, FNG Research
Putting together a survey show that takes the pulse of the global art world is a complex task. Ahead of the ARS22 exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Gill Crabbe discusses the research and curatorial processes involved with Museum Director Leevi Haapala and Chief Curator João Laia
There’s an old saying that we can become what we dwell on, and this springs to mind following meeting Leevi Haapala, Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma and the Chief Curator João Laia. They have been working on the latest in a series of exhibitions, which are held every four to five years in Helsinki to test the water of the contemporary arts scene both nationally and internationally. Each edition of this long-established show is eagerly awaited, with its selection of around 40–50 artists ranging from emerging Finnish artists to global icons, and expectations are high. Hearing Haapala and Laia speak about their vision for ARS22 and the research processes involved, it seems clear that the two of them have been in many ways embodying or exemplifying the vision they have evolved for this landmark exhibition. They are walking the talk.
For the theme around which ARS22 is conceived is mutual empathy, neatly encapsulated in the show’s title ‘Living Encounters’. Looking at the world, as artists do, it is easy to see the processes of social fragmentation (accelerated by Covid-19) and increasing polarisation within the discourses and issues of today, be that politics, ecology, technology, belief systems, gender or race issues – ‘concerns,’ says Haapala ‘that contribute to determining our actions in collective and private spheres’. The vision for ARS22 centres on presenting artworks that individually, collectively or in dialogue with one another, offer the possibility to question or obviate such divisions. With this approach ARS22 sets out to create a ‘renewed way of thinking which acknowledges the complexities of the world as fruitful’ rather than divisive, and provides a ‘forum for sharing experiences and examining issues that touch us all’.
Featured image: Slavs and Tatars, Prayway, 2012, installation. Courtesy the artists and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin
Photo: Bernard Kahrmann
Read more — Download ‘Living Encounters: Creating a Landmark Contemporary Art Show’, by Gill Crabbe, as a PDF