Maria Ylikoski: According to Etiquette

Maria Ylikoski: According to Etiquette




12:00 – 17:00


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Invisible Ester is the first part of Maria Ylikoski’s project Ester – The Invisible One. The aim of the project is to create a portrait of Ester Markkola who worked as President Urho Kekkonen’s maid for 30 years. Ester is a mystery that the exhibition will shed some light on.

Ester Markkola lived in Tamminiemi, the president’s official residence, and took care of the presidential couple’s clothes and various other things around the house. She often accompanied the president on his state visits. During her long career, Ester became a faithful servant, a trusted employee who was on standby almost around the clock. Ester was a very private and invisible person. She didn’t let people take photos of her and she did not give interviews even though she surely would have had many stories to tell. In one of his letters, President Kekkonen wrote that Ester “means everything to us in Tamminiemi.”

For Maria Ylikoski, Ester Markkola was an aunt, a strong-willed woman who gave wonderful gifts and who valued good manners and etiquette. After retiring, Ester regretted not keeping a diary during her working years. Her memories faded, even though she held on to them in the form of items and documents. Ester died in 2010 and Ylikoski inherited her items and memories.

“I see myself as her archivist who organizes, catalogs, records and interprets things, gives them meanings.”

The exhibition is a piece of a posthumous diary. It showcases part of Ester’s archive that consists of items and documents arranged by Ylikoski. It includes archival photos and collages/works that Ylikoski has created using, for example, Ester’s travel documents, gloves, trousseau sheets, chocolate and cigar boxes and wrapping paper. The exhibition is an attempt to unravel and understand the mystery, Ester’s work and life as part of the presidential institution.

Maria Ylikoski (b. 1966) has studied photography in Turku and Gothenburg. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from the Academy of Fine Arts in 2011. In her works, she often focuses on memory, family and storytelling. She has created several video portraits of persons in different stages of life. Her works have been on display at galleries and museums in Finland and abroad. Ylikoski started working on the Ester – The Invisible One project in 2021 with the help of a grant from the Kone Foundation. The project at Galleria Huuto is the first part of Ester’s portrait.

Thank you
The project has been supported by the Kone Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike), Centre for the Promotion of Visual Art (VISEK) and Archives of President Urho Kekkonen (UKK Archives).

Contact details

Thu 29 Feb 2024 – 24 Mar 2024 12:00 – 17:00


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Panimokatu 1, Kalasatama