1 November – 15 December 2019
Galleria Rankka – Eerikinkatu 36, 00180 Helsinki Artists:
Babi Badalov, Damian Le Bas, Delaine Le Bas, CABOCO (B A / Nástio Mosquito / Junior Fernadez), Chto Delat, Lusine Djanyan and Aleksey Knedlyakovsky, Juan-Pedro Fabra Guemberina, Kholod Hawash,
Fatoş Irwen, Saddam Jumaily, Spartak Khachanov, Barış Seyitvan / Mehmet Ali Boran, Issa Touma
Lil Baliil, Ramy Essam, Paleface, Grammo Suspect Curators:
Ivor Stodolsky and Marita Muukkonen The violent injustices, dramatic specifics and complex trajectories of the emergencies which put artists at risk – be they Afro-indigenous Brazilians, Iraqis or Kurds from across ancient Mesopotamia's blood-soaked contemporary borders, secular artists under religious regimes, Europeans of Romani descent, dissident ecologists, or indeed any dissenting voices resisting the crude appeals of hydra-headed fascism – are all radically different.
From a perspective of safety – where you, dear reader, are most likely located – all of these violations of physical dignity and freedom of expression are clustered under one universal: their haptic absence. In other words, these emergencies are scarcely felt in the here and the now. Or do you feel something that scrapes your skin, embattles your ears, stings your eyes – your very own – dear reader?
Emergencies flash by on screens, generated somewhere, somehow by someone, or some algorithmic machine. One by one, each is soon suppressed by newer news, with the angry seas of mass (mis)information rising. It's always been easier to let yourself forget.
The Helsinki edition of the Artists at Risk (AR) Pavilion is an exhibition of first-hand witnesses and storytellers; bodies as living documents; makers of unmade monuments; creators of memory-machines of worlds whose language you may have forgotten, denied or never learned. Translating the physically-absent into the mentally-present: the art of making memory.
A few questions.
"Why are We always on the Outside?" asks a great artist, a Gypsy as he calls himself. This massive work, which hung on the outside of Moderna Museet Malmö, and on a central square in Berlin, now adorns Helsinki's Eerikinkatu. Are the Romani people, Europe's largest ethnic minority like he says, "1000 Years Refugees"?
Water climbs slowly to efface one of the first sites of human settlement, 12,000 years old. Streets and cafes are submerged, homes follow, then generations of dwellings, entire civilizations, human-geological strata. This settlement is not cursed by angry gods; nor is this a biospheric response to our anthropocene hubris. We are speaking of just another dictator's dam. Do you remember Hasankeyf?
What is that war about, in the blood-soaked steppes of Ukraine? Or that war, in 1918, on Helsinki's Long Bridge? Brother kills brother, and their sisters make the ammunition. Can bullet-holes be filled with molten bronze, to heal the wound? Or should a civil war be manifested in beaten iron figures and the screaming of the wind?