Helsinki

Loving Women

Loving Women

Sinne

Oct

08

Fri

11:00 – 17:00

2–4°C

overcast clouds

Open:
Wed–Sun
11–17

Loving women from the 19th century to today
The theme of Gallery Elverket’s current exhibition is love between women. Finland is one of the few countries where both male and female homosexuality were illegal and punishable offences (from 1894 until 1971). This exhibition celebrates the decriminalization of homosexuality in 1971, but it also reminds us that, even today, the spectrum of sexualities and genders is still a target of prejudice and discrimination. Many publications and exhibitions dealing with the history of homosexuality have paid less attention to love between women than to that between men. Loving Women is based on the work of five artists and takes us on a journey into love between women and the various forms that it takes.

The timeline of the artworks in the exhibition extends from the 1890s up to the present, with both historical works and some made especially for Elverket. The exhibition shows how various phenomena related to genders and sexuality have been dealt with in different ways and how a diverse set of images is revealed to the viewer. At the same time, it is an attempt to draw a picture that runs counter to classifications and definitions of identities and sexualities. That is to say, to show how art, for example, can deal with different identities freely without resorting to definitions.

Loving Women also seeks to present both historical and current ways of treating being a woman and femininity as a realm that does not constantly have to be defined with reference to masculinity. The images and works here demonstrate how broad the scope of the feminine is, and how its various representations escape definition, while also creating new realities.

The photographs by the Norwegian photographer Marie Høeg (1866–1949) show a play with identities, along with crossdressing and other phenomena that carnivalize gender. The correspondence of the Finnish painter Ester Helenius (1879–1955) was traditionally viewed as reflecting heterosexual love, but Professor of Art History Tutta Palin’s recent publications show how Helenius conducted loving exchanges of letters with other women. Her flower paintings combine the sensual and the supersensory in a unique way. From Tove Jansson (1914–2001) here are various self-portraits and other autofictional material, in which relationships between women and diverse identities occupy a central place. Emma Helle (1979) is known as a versatile sculptor, in whose sculptures the feminine body is pivotal, and is treated as a fascinating, dramatic subject. The sculptures celebrate femininity in variations on 1970s feminist discourse. The visual artist Edith Hammar’s (1992) paintings on the gallery’s walls shed light on queer and non-normative identities. Hammar, who studied in Stockholm, draws directly onto the wall, making works that bring both narrativity and play with identity into the exhibition.

Taken together these works reveal how norms can be broken down in various ways, and how the diversity of identities is visible at the end of the 19th century, in 20th-century modernism, and in contemporary art. The language of flowers, carnivalism, everyday life, queer studies and the political nature of the personal are all terms that could be used to describe the works on display. The exhibition does not seek to represent the entire spectrum of love between women, but aims to highlight its historical strata and various nuances, which still exist in our time.

Juha-Heikki Tihinen, PhD

Sinne

Fri 08 Oct 2021 11:00 – 17:00

2–4°C

overcast clouds