An old industrial city in Western Finland comes alive in mid-July, when the rest of Finland is on vacation. Herds of politicians and other top dogs wander from discussions to cocktail-lounges under the eyes of a common man. The societal talk turns into a mature festival, Pori Jazz, by the end of the week. The combination of serious discussion and ”jazz” is a goldmine for the local businesses and cultural life.
Curators Anna Jensen, Anni Venäläinen and Eliisa Suvanto wanted to take part in the action and create an exhibition which would be something else than the ordinary summer exhibition. In summer 2013 Porin kulttuurisäätö, as they named the project, was launched with the budget of 500 euros. Exhibition was based on discussion and research about sponsors and arts funding. Next year, 2014, it was time for the first Pori Biennale. Pori Biennale was, as the name suggests, a grandieuse project which took place around the city. Media coverage was extensive and the biennale came across as a rather massive art event. And what could potentially be bigger than art biennale? World Expo. Summer 2015 Porin kulttuurisäätö aimed high with the world expo theme.
This year it is time for the second Pori Biennale and Saatanan kesänäyttely (”another bloody summer exhibition”). Again, the project is exploring the structures and phenomena of the art world. Curators explain the name as a comment against the typical summer exhibitions, sometimes considered to lack credibility and vision. Saatanan kesänäyttely comes from strongly conceptual perspective but translates into contemporary visual language. Exhibition is located in an old generator room in Puuvillatehdas (old cotton factory) and the run-down hall is a welcome variation for the white cube. Two themes stand out in the exhibition: the relation between the art world and the society as well as narrations of nature. Anna-Sofia Sysser’s work Tropical Pori? deals with how ideas are constructed and transformed. Pori has little in common with what we mean with tropical but how come we can find bits and pieces of this holistic concept in Pori? Maybe the seemingly foreign ”tropical” can be constructed in Pori? The grey city is transformed to a holiday paradise, where one can eat (conserved) papaya under (plastic) palm trees. An efficient mini-holiday for the busy people!
In the hands of Anna Breu art refuses to be subjected under the goals of wellbeing and points towards the controversial goals art sometimes carries. Conflict between white-trash-tribal-tattoo and traditional torso penetrated with arrows is obvious. Contradictions are visible also in Erno-Erik Raitanen’s work. Plants growing from the artists’ waste is reconstructing art history classics such as Simberg and Manzoni, bringing the ever-relevant discussion about the artist-as-hero on the table. The relation to and narratives of nature is displayed in the works of Henrik Heinonen as well as Suvi Härkönen. Suomi Kuvaa-collective contributes to the exhibition with a video work in which a motoboy rides his bike on a motorway. The visitor will never know where the rider is heading – it seems that he does not know either. Riding a motorbike to sunset seems like a tempting alternative.
Saatanan kesänäyttely until 17th of July in Generaattorihuone, Puuvilla, Pori.