Venice Biennale closed: The most extensive Finnish exhibition of all time


Suomen Alvar Aalto -paviljonki Venetsian biennaalissa 2013. Kuva: Eva Ohtonen.

The Finnish Alvar Aalto Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2013. Photo: Eva Ohtonen.


The 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia was closed on Sunday 24 November. Opened on 1 June, the exhibition reached in total 475,000 visitors during nearly six months. This year Finland participated the Venice Biennale with an exceptionally extensive exhibition Falling Trees that combined the solo exhibitions of the Finnish artists Terike Haapoja and Antti Laitinen. The exhibition was curated by the Gruppo 111 collective Mika Elo, Marko Karo and Harri Laakso.

This year the Finnish exhibition took over both the Nordic Pavilion and the Finnish Alvar Aalto Pavilion. The Falling Trees exhibition gained international media attention for it’s extensiveness and for handling the questions of nature, this year’s current theme in the Biennale.

Terike Haapoja transformed the Nordic Pavilion into a sort of ‘pavilion of the species’ and challenged the familiar human- and nation-state -centric approach, which is often found at the heart of the exhibitions at the Biennale. Antti Laitinen transported about 5,000 kg of birch logs split into firewood to the Biennale. The wood felled and chopped by Laitinen served as material for the performance and installation planned for the front lawn of the Aalto Pavilion. With the help of a hammer and nails, they became a forest of their own.

Both Finnish artists gained a lot of international contacts due to the Falling Trees exhibition. I have got contacts and exhibition invitations from Taiwan, Guatemala, the Faroe Islands, Canada and Dubai, for example. Most of them are events dealing with questions of ecology, minorities or media art, which is wonderful since those topics are important for me. The exhibition has made possible for me to participate in the international debate, Haapoja states. The work of Antti Laitinen has drawn attention as well: I have got several new contacts and some of them have already lead to a new exhibition.

Also Frame Visual Art Finland is very pleased with the exhibitions and the number of visitors. The next Venice Biennale is organized in 2015.  The Venice Biennale is an excellent opportunity for presenting the Finnish art and we are already looking forward to year 2015, states Raija Koli, the director of Frame.