12:00 – 18:00


clear sky

Our last exhibition this year gathers five active Finnish artists, of whom two currently live and work in other European countries, and also features one artist who is no longer alive. The curatorial point of departure was a hunch that these artists might have something in common, and that Kohta could be turned into a ‘vision-portal’ to other realities – hidden or suppressed, imagined or engineered – and an ‘action-space’ that artists can subvert and twist to their own needs – visual, narrative or both.

We envisioned a exhibition that finds its own symmetry with on-site productions and existing works coming together as a ‘vision-place’, which is a literal translation of the exhibition’s Finnish title. Näkypaikka was supposed to mean ‘theatre’, but the word can in fact only be found – along with its synonym katselupaikka, ‘view-place’ – in lists of coinages proposed by the first translator of the Bible into Finnish, Mikael Agricola (1510–57). When we use it now, 500 years later, we are effectively inviting Finnish-speakers to interpret and understand it in their own way. (The current Finnish word for ‘theatre’ is teatteri.)

Two of the participating artists have been invited to execute their work in Kohta’s exhibition space, adding or subtracting elements. Marja Kanervo (1958, lives in Helsinki) is known for her site- and building-specific installations, informed by painting as a system of thought and action. For her new work Tilanne/Situation (2023), she has drilled a multitude of holes into Kohta’s walls, exposing the plywood underneath their painted plasterboard in swarm-like constellations reminiscent of an experimental musical score. Benjamin Orlow (1984, lives in London) has recently shown expressive and tentatively anthropomorphic ceramic sculptures in various sizes. He was invited to create a large-scale work of unfired clay on site in both galleries at Kohta. It is part of his ongoing series Ritual City (2016–ongoing) and will be left to dry for the duration of the exhibition.

Two other artists contribute pieces that are partially new but also continue existing works. Henna Hyvärinen (1986, lives in The Hague) shows Zuaharivetty (‘Sugar Water’, 2023), a video portrait of her uncle, the last surviving member of the family to have been born in eastern Karelia. Like the first part of this planned trilogy, a video portrait of her mother titled Pussycat Soup (2022) also shown here, the new film is subtitled in both English and Livvi, the dialect of Karelian that her family originally spoke. Laura Lohiaita (1989, lives in Helsinki) is just graduating from the Academy of Fine Arts. She shows Screen Sieve (2022–23), gelatin silver prints of a series of photographic works featuring human faces and based on video clips from social media. There are also  banners with enlargements of these layered images, printed on fabric especially for the exhibition.

The remaining two artists are represented by existing work displayed in such a way that its communication with the other work in the exhibition is enhanced. Jussi Kivi (1959, lives in Helsinki) is known for drawings, photographs and installations that articulate his fascination – at times bordering on obsession – with liminal spaces and especially with the underground. He shows a series of photographs from 2011–17 that capture the sublime within the contemporary natural and built environment. Veijo Rönkkönen (1944–2010, lived in Parikkala close to the Russian border) was a self-taught artist famous for the sculpture park he created next to his home, populated mostly by concrete casts of his own body in various yoga poses. We show large-scale prints of Rönkkönen’s series of double-exposed photographs from 1994, in which shots of his nude body, backlit in the narrow door to his sauna, are superimposed with views from the Parikkala Sculpture Park.

The works by all these artists give us the sensation that something is seeping through from another dimension, unseen or only partially visible. Regardless of the technique used to produce them, the images in this exhibition become portals – also unto themselves as non-images. This is the case with Kanervo, whose drilled holes form an image of sorts only when reproduced in sufficient quantity, or with Lohiaita’s banners, which double as curtains between different parts of the exhibition, or with Rönkkönen’s photographs, printed life-size and plastered onto the walls to simulate a parallel reality of sauna doors we might all step through. In Orlow’s sculptures, Kivi’s photographs and Hyvärinen’s videos, this portal function is at the same time more literal and more subtle. They usher viewers into alternative views and visions of reality, but without insisting on breaking the illusion of mirroring life around them.

Henna Hyvärinen’s work is supported by the Kone Foundation. Most of the clay for Benjamin Orlow’s sculpture is kindly provided by Wienerberger Oy Ab. Veijo Rönkkönen’s photographs are shown courtesy of Parikkalan patsaspuisto.

Thu 19 Oct 2023 – 17 Dec 2023 12:00 – 18:00


clear sky

Työpajankatu 2 B 3. fl
00580 Helsinki