Exhibition: Dissolving Frontiers

June 6–August 17, 2014 at HIAP Gallery Augusta (Helsinki, FI)

The exhibition Dissolving Frontiers at HIAP Gallery Augusta found its structure from the tension between dysfunctional 'modern' modes of organising life, and the need for new perspectives that require decomposing and unlearning the assumed truths of seemingly modernised Western societies, as well as the adoption of more speculative approaches.

There is widespread belief in the capability of “modern” societies to rationally solve complex social, political, and economic problems, and to correct the miscalculations of earlier generations. These societies are seen as having developed through progressive steps from primitive to more advanced modes of existence, with the fruits of this civilization process – modern science and technological innovations – having provided the tools for continuing the progress of the members of these societies on Earth.

This assumed progress has taken place within the framework of nation states. Their success has been measured by economic growth derived from consuming the resources of Nature. An understanding of Nature as separate from human culture has provided an endless source of otherness, and a plethora of specialized disciplines have promised to offer humankind all the knowledge needed to benefit from it.

Paradoxically, in light of observations and research from the past four decades, it seems that these assumptions have brought the ecosystem, of which the human species is a part, into a drastic state of imbalance. Despite signals on a planetary scale of transformations caused by human activities, the mainstream mindset is still fixed in the mode of endless economic growth and progress. However, the conviction in the human capability to handle ecological, social, and cultural crises has begun to waver.

This brings about an increasing sense of urgency for new approaches, understandings, and skills. Space has to be made for speculation and uncertainty, instead of trying to cling on to existing truths.

The rear exhibition hall is dedicated to artworks by Khaled Ramadan, Hanna Husberg & Laura McLean, Nestori Syrjälä, and Tonka Maleković. In their different ways, they deal with disappearance, either anticipated or actualised, as well as with roots, traditions, and traces of what remains after something that once existed dissolves into something else.

In Malekovic’s Garden Circles, a nearly 40-year-old community garden of one of the largest apartment blocks in Europe is bulldozed in one day without warning. Ramadan, with his documentary Maldives to be or not (2013), provides perspectives on the modernisation project of the Maldives and its politicised ecology. In their collaborative video work, also Husberg and McLean take a look at the Maldives and speculate on possible futures for this nation state anticipated to dissolve into the ocean within the next century. Nestori Syrjälä’s new video raimo s. (2014), produced within the Frontiers in Retreat project, focuses on a subjective, embodied experience of ecological crisis and disruption of old ideologies.

The front space provides an open platform for new approaches and speculation. Over the course of summer 2014, artists Tue Greenfort, Fernando Garcia-Dory, Mari Keski-Korsu, and Brett Bloom & Bonnie Fortune will make their marks and leave traces in the space. Their contributions open new perspectives on human existence on Earth by looking at questions of new technologies and territory, the dynamic of the urban and the rural, the secrets of the plant world, communication between humans and other species, and through finding new ways of attuning to and being embedded in our environment.

The exhibition is co-curated by Jenni Nurmenniemi (HIAP) and independent curator Jussi Koitela (Helsinki).