Venue: Helsinki Biennial – Helsinki (Finlandia)
12/06-17/09 2023

Helsinki Biennial 2023 is delighted to share the 29 international artists and collectives participating in its second edition, New Directions May Emerge, curated by Joasia Krysa and produced by HAM Helsinki Art Museum. The biennial comprises around 50% new commissions and site-specific works which engage with some of the pressing issues of our time, encompassing environmental damage, political conflict and the impact of technology.

This year, the biennial’s central location of Vallisaari Island in the Helsinki archipelago will have a particular emphasis on outdoor artworks. In addition, a 20-minute ferry ride away, artworks sprawl across several mainland venues, as well as online.

The Helsinki Biennial 2023 participants include
Matti Aikio (Sápmi)*, Ahmed Al-Nawas & Minna Henriksson (Finland)*, Dineo Seshee Bopape (South Africa), Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley (UK/Germany), Golden Snail Opera (Anna Tsing, Yen-ling Tsai, Isabelle Carbonell & Joelle Chevrier) (Taiwan/France/US), Alma Heikkilä (Finland)*, INTERPRT (Norway)*, Keiken (UK)*, Sonya Lindfors (Cameroon/Finland)*, Lotta Petronella with Sami Tallberg & Lau Nau (Finland)*, Asunción Molinos Gordo (Spain), Tuula Närhinen (Finland), PHOSfate (Sahrawi/Finland), Diana Policarpo (Portugal), Sepideh Rahaa (Iran/Finland), Bita Razavi (Finland/Iran/Estonia), RED FOREST (Ukraine/UK/US/Mexico/Germany/Finland/South Africa) *, Remedies (Sasha Huber & Petri Saarikko) (Switzerland/Finland)*, Tabita Rezaire (France), Emilija Škarnulytė (Lithuania)*, Yehwan Song (South Korea)*, Jenna Sutela (Finland), Suzanne Treister (UK), Adrián Villar Rojas (Argentina)*, and Zheng Mahler (Hong Kong).

*An asterisk denotes a new commission.

For New Directions May Emerge, new commissions explore alternative ways of living in, and understanding, the world, whilst envisioning various potential futures.

Adrián Villar Rojas will present a site-specific sculptural work, From the Series The End of Imagination (2023). Inspired by the Argentinian hornero bird—which makes its nests from mud, straw and rubble, adapting them to human-built surroundings – Villar Rojas’ otherworldly new forms will be scattered across Vallisaari Island, attached to trees, rocks, and buildings. For this iteration, the sculptures have been designed using an amalgamation of software collectively described as the ‘Time Engine’.

Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley invites visitors to take part in a role-playing performance and installation exploring a speculative Black trans mythology of Vallisaari Island. Visitors are invited to explore Vallisaari and meet various characters in the form of physical sculptures along the way, while an online counterpart presents personal stories of these characters, bringing their fictional histories to life.

Emilija Škarnulytė’s new film installation Hypoxia draws inspiration from the Baltic Sea. The work meditates on extinction, future archaeology, and deep time, examining the ocean basin from an “alien archaeological perspective” to reconstruct mythologies and beliefs of the past and present.

Sámi artist Matti Aikio presents a new multichannel video and sound installation. Aikio’s practice focuses on the historical treatment of the Sámi population and the appropriation of indigenous identity. For the biennial, Aikio raises questions related to the utilization of natural resources, preservation of nature, generation of fossil-free energy, and human relations with other forms of life.

Artist collective Keiken’s new work, titled Ángel Yōkai Atā, encompasses both physical and digital elements: a sound piece creating an ambient backdrop for the island’s Lime Tree Avenue; a sculptural house on the water’s edge for “angels and spirits”, and an online interactive experience which will allow viewers to virtually walk inside the spirit house and into a speculative new world.

From Spring 2023, Arja Miller joins as the new director for Helsinki Biennial and HAM Helsinki Art Museum, moving to the role from her previous position as the chief curator at EMMA Espoo Museum of Modern Art. Miller comments:

“I am proud that Helsinki Biennial, a relatively young addition to the art world, is leading the way in environmentally responsible and socially sustainable values. The artists and artworks participating in this second edition are directly responding to the world around us, employing a future-orientated vision which is at the core of the biennial itself. We hope audiences will be prompted to explore how art and artists can give us new perspectives on the global challenges we are facing.”