Making an invitation is a movement of reaching out, and by doing so shifting things around in the world. Many great events have started as a simple invitation. The idea of this exhibition was born during the pandemic and then postponed a year to take place in spring 2022. I gave the exhibition concept the name “Sedan reste jag mig”, a Swedish wordplay where the title is being understood as “Then I rose up”, but the word reste also means travelled. I was longing for movement in the stillness of the quarantine, at the same time as the meaning of movement seemed to have suddenly shifted. I invited the artists by asking: What does it mean to rise up, to move your body, to travel, where is your home, where are you going? The artists answers are to be found in the art pieces of the exhibition, as well as in the direct response of the artists physical presence in the exhibition. Traveling from different countries to take an active part in the exhibition can be understood as a performative act.
The invitation goes out to the viewer to enter the space and experience the exhibition through their own movement of body and mind. Our aim as artists have been to be present in this exhibition spanning over four intensive days creating meeting points with the art as well as the artists. The artists will give workshops inspired by their art works, extending the original invitation of reflecting on the idea of rising/travel via their materials. To organize physical meeting points is a true delight after the years of the pandemic and looking at the present assuming what is to come, free art forms and open discussions are of great importance.
The artist as curator, the curator as host
By inviting artists, whose life and work I have known well for years from the perspective of being an artist and friend, and selecting them for my curatorial concept made me give the role of the curator some more thought. There is an element of control and power to the role of the curator in relation to the artist, a balance that can seem strange amidst friends. I find that my take on the role in this project has reminded me more of the one of the host. In the year prior to this exhibition the artists all visited me one by one in my home in Helsinki, staying for longer or shorter periods to share life and art, talking about the idea of the exhibition and the artworks. Inviting someone to your home is an act of trust. The daily routine will shift, and new patterns evolve from a combination of personalities and interests. Through the eyes of the visitor, I saw myself, my routines, and my city in different perspectives. This is similar to exhibiting an artwork alongside another artist, the different works will resonate with each other, a third meaning arises between the two. I thought of the different events one can host, placing people on a formal stage or hosting them at your own dinner table, the difference being an element of intimacy, of vulnerability, impossible to remain silent in. This time I chose the path of the dinner table, involving myself as an artist as well as the curator. It is not an uncomplicated role in its double nature, but speaking in allegories of movement and hosting, it is a busy role demanding lots of movement, serving dinner while trying to take part in the conversation, all without spilling the soup.
The artistic expressions of Carina Ahlskog, Cora Wöllenstein and Ustina Yakovleva are very different from each other but they share a sensitivity to the world around them which is rare and beautiful. While I have known them separately for years, they had not met each other prior to the project. I was very curious to find out the dynamics of bringing their artistic processes together in one exhibition. To exhibit the idea of movement both in the literal sense of Carina's choreographed dance performance of rising and falling and in the symbolic sense of the still objects by Cora, Ustina and me, a narrative is already forming. With one living artwork being present only at certain times, sometimes walking out of the space to shortly return, the rhythm of the room has been created.
But is the opposite of rising always falling? Or is there stillness and peace to be found? That is how I know Ustinas process of working. While being the constant traveler across the world, the work she brings with her makes her sit still for hours, concentrated on the detailed embroidery. Until she packs it up again in her suitcase and continues the journey.
These are big questions to deal with, about home and roots, rising and falling and finding ones place in the middle of the journey, maybe even inside oneself, as Cora's installations suggest. Through it all, we continue to live with the collected memories and emotions of the places we have been, the things we have seen. This is the shared experience of being human, as artists we give it shape, and the shapes are curious and exploring in nature.