”Drawing on historical and current convergences between art practice and activism, the artists in Companions will share their tools for living with uncertainty, and call for new codes of survival and forms of togetherness.” Companions, Forum Box
Forum Box: Companions. 20.8.-12.9.2021. Helsinki, Finland
The sound of fountain mixes with something ambient, bird singing and a peaceful and calming voice behind a curtain. A trailer. A van. A sheet hanging in the wall like a shelter or a dress. A bike with enormous yellow letters forming the word HOME. Vivid. Flourishing. Mobile. Civilized. Persistent. Determined. Fresh.
These are the first imperssions of Forum Box’s Companions, a haven for healing, recovery, connection and security, a thriving, powerful and cleansing exhibition curated by London based artists Minna Haukka and Kristin Luke. The exhibition brings to Finland a piece of the famous London Feminist Library – a couple of dozen artists from different fields and nationalities meet in an exhibition combining activism and visual arts, exploring the theme of partnership and calling for new forms of coexistence in order to flourish and survive. The whole creation with its viruses and plants is represented, and the space is psychologically very safe, soothing and cathartic. ”Today you are not alone,” it seems to say. ”There’s a solution”.
And the solution, it is sustainable, connective, mobile, floating, new. In the heart of it there’s creative thinking, shared and differet information and collaboration. ”Minna Haukka’s and Kristin Luke’s collaborative project Mobile Feminist Library is an extension of the Feminist Library installed in a van. Since 2018, the MFL has taken different forms, responding to each place it lands. At Forum Box Gallery, the Mobile Feminist Library becomes an expanded concept, combining mobility and collective practice to cultivate counter-patriarchal bodies and systems of knowledge. Haukka and Luke have used this as their framework to create a feminist base for reflection, learning and dreaming.”, the prospectus of the exhibition says.
The control, ignorance, exploitation, misuse and various roles of the female, queer and representatives of different nationalities indeed are beautifully featured, even riveted there and so is the history of the struggle, a different kind of historiography, and the alternative narrative. The power, language, and democrasy associated with movement are accentuated from the form of a fountain trailer and van library attached to the back of a car to new suggestions and solutions, and from the work after work, the truth and honesty of often suffocated or invisible experiences and reality emerges. Instead of a constant emphasis on genitals, libido and sexuality, a picture of violence and pain, the exhibition is civilized, calm, beautiful – and definitely that’s why the entity is so overwhelmingly strong, and underlining continuity and security. “Protect us from the virus & from those who value lies over the truth,” says Rachel Houses art book in the exhibition.
Even though there’s a great amount of material and ideas included, it’s all coherent and all together creating something new.
The extensions of companies go furher over artistic boundaries too, there’s also theatre and events attached. Theatre Vendetta and Decent Women will break out of boxes at gallery on Sat 18.9.2021 at 19, Thu 23.9.2021 at 19 and Mon 27.9.2021 at 19. In the performance of the two feminist groups improvisational theater, dance, performance, and visual arts are combined into one performance. ”The works presented during the evening deal with various representations of (female) gender and (female) body. The scenes created by the artists introduce the spectators to the impossibility of womanhood throughout history from the imagery of classical fine arts all the way to the conventions of modern Finnish society.”, the exhibitions text says.
There are no firm rules, suggests Anna Crystal Stephens in her book A Sick Logic. In the reality of changed conditions and self-destructive present, we just need to abandon the whole old narration and the old goals so far, start forming new, and flourish with the nature.
Because it’s the only way.
Companions is an exhibition that is rooted in the Feminist Library. Open since 1975 and recently relocated to Peckham, South London, the Library is a large archive collection of feminist literature, and an autonomous, intersectional, trans-inclusive, non-sectarian community space for the exploration of feminism.
The public program of screenings, talks and performances will run alongside the exhibition, exploring how the term companions can also include international solidarities.
Artists and collectives include Niina Lehtonen Braun, Maria Duncker, Minna Haukka, Harriet Hill, Rachael House, Jasmine Johnson, Heidi Kilpeläinen, Kristin Luke, Maria Mahfooz, Emily Mulenga, Mimosa Pale, Rachel Pimm, Sister Library Mumbai, Anna Chrystal Stephens, Ilona Valkonen, Alice May Williams, Feminist Library and Queer Zine Library.
Here’s also a playlist curated by us, inspired by Companions.
Totuus. Suomen virallinen kulttuuritaidejulkaisu. Truth. The Critical Art & Music Magazine of Finland.
Heini Heikkilä on Totuus -kulttuuritaidejulkaisun päätoimittaja, taiteentutkimuksen maisteri, opettaja ja elokuvakäsikirjoittaja. Hän on opiskellut kirjallisuustiedettä, taidehistoriaa ja teatteritiedettä sekä luovaa kirjoittamista Joensuussa, Helsingin ja Jyväskylän yliopistossa ja Italiassa Universitá degli studi di Milanossa. Lahdessa syntynyt ja Sonkajärvellä koulunsa käynyt Heini Heikkilä asuu Helsingissä.
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