Turku Biennial 2015 – The Unexpected Guest

Ars Nova

International exhibition presents contemporary art from Finland and Europe

The seventh international Turku Biennial fills Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova with brand new works of contemporary art. Eighteen artists and artist groups have been invited to participate in the exhibition with the theme The Unexpected Guest. For the duration of the summer, the multivoiced group of artists turns the museum into a stage for unexpected incidents.

The ”artist invites an artist” method brings artists previously unseen in Finland to the museum

The theme of the Biennial, The Unexpected Guest, shows itself in many ways in the exhibition, from the artist selections to the works themselves and surprising associated events. For the first time in the history of the Turku Biennial, the artists invited to the exhibition have also had the chance to influence who appears in the exhibition.

In the spring of 2014, Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova announced a portfolio submission to the Turku Biennial, open to all Finnish artists. The artists were to present their previous work in the applications, as well as ideas inspired by the theme of the biennial. In addition, they were to suggest an artist colleague working in Finland or elsewhere in Europe whom they would like to see in the exhibition. Based on the applications and suggestions, nine artists or artist groups and their guests were chosen for the exhibition. The aim was to give the artists a chance to examine the theme of the exhibition also through the work of other interesting or inspiring artists and so enrich the exploration of the theme. The ”artist invites an artist” method opens the museum’s doors also to artists whose work has not been previously exhibited in Finland.

The artists of the Turku Biennial were chosen in May 2014, so they have had a year to prepare their works. The jury responsible for the artists selections included Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova’s researcher Eeva Holkeri, communications officer Selina Kiiskinen, curator Silja Lehtonen and museum director Johanna Lehto-Vahtera.

The unexpected guest surprises

Both sudden halts and the passing of time, along with the unexpected guests that gradually walk into one’s life, are all visible in the new works made for the Turku Biennial. The twists of the daily life or the turns that take place in artistic work are examples through which the artists have discussed the theme of the unfamiliar. The exhibition also contains absurd humour and imaginative manipulation of the exhibition spaces. Surprising elements can be found in the content, technique, material or approach of the works. The unexpected guest of the Turku Biennial may be a single arresting image or a story told by a site-specific installation.

Artists of the Turku Biennial

Anna Breu (Turku, artist group) with guest Erkka Nissinen (Helsinki / New York, b. 1975)

Erno Enkenberg (Espoo, b. 1975) with guest Andy Parker (London, b. 1978)

Krister Gråhn (Mänttä, b. 1979) and Jarno Vesala (Nokia, b. 1977) applied for the exhibition with a joint work

Aulis Harmaala (Helsinki, b. 1966) with guest Gil & Moti (Rotterdam, b. 1968 & 1971)

Marjatta Holma (Turku, b. 1976) with guest Stig Baumgartner (Helsinki, b. 1969)

Aino Kannisto (Helsinki, b. 1973) with guest Satu Haavisto (Helsinki, b. 1975), collaborators

Kalle Mustonen (Helsinki, b. 1979) with guest Ottmar Hörl (Wertheim, b. 1950)

Maija Närhinen (Helsinki, b. 1967) with guest Jacob Dahlgren (Stockholm, b. 1970)

Milla-Kariina Oja (Helsinki, b. 1976) with guest Dénes Farkas (Tallinn, b. 1974)

Associated events and publication deepen the exhibition experience

The exhibition is complemented by a diverse set of events that center around June and especially August. They include artists meetings, workshops, lectures and performances.

The Turku Biennial publication contains essays introducing the artists. The writers of the essays are experts of contemporary art and culture. Additional information about the exhibition, the artists and the associated events can also be found in the guidebook produced by Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova that is available free of charge for all visitors.

The winner of the Turku Biennial will be announced in June

Since 2003, one of the artists of the exhibition has been chosen as the winner of the Turku Biennial. The winner of 2015 is chosen by Icelandic curator and museum director Gunnar B. Kvaran from the Astrup Fearnley Museum in Oslo. The winner of the biennial is awarded a prize of 5 000 euros. Additionally, a public vote for the favourite work of the visitors will take place during the whole duration of the exhibition. In connection with the Turku Biennial, an art contest for children and youth, Turku Biennial Junior, will also be organised. Its results will be shown in the museum in the autumn of 2015.

Anna Breu Tähtiportti, 2015, installation. Photo: Jari Nieminen / Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
Dénes Farkas: Eräänlaisia hiljaisuuksia, 2015, installation. Photo: Jari Nieminen / Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
Krister Gråhn & Jarno Vesala: Työn alla, 2015, installation. Photo: Jari Nieminen / Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
Jacob Dahlgren: Third Uncle, 2015, electric wire, video. Photo: Jari Nieminen / Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova
Kalle Mustonen making his woodsculpture Death of the Gnome King, 2015.