Finnish contemporary art takes the spotlight in the United States

In 2023, Finnish contemporary art takes the spotlight in the United States, where interest in Finland is currently peaking across multiple areas of society. In New York, a number of exhibitions, new commissions, and performances will introduce American audiences to the latest in Finnish art throughout the year.

Iiu Susiraja’s solo exhibition at MoMA PS1 highlights the spring

Finnish contemporary art and artists are extensively presented across the United States during 2023. In the spring season, the remarkable year will be spearheaded by Turku-based photographer Iiu Susiraja’s solo exhibition at MoMA PS1. The exhibition brings together a selection of photographs and videos presenting Susiraja’s practice since 2007. Following her recent gallery shows and the appearance on the cover of Artforum magazine last year, Susiraja’s international career is blooming.

Iiu Susiraja: A style called a dead fish will be open from April 20th to September 4th, 2023. The exhibition is supported by Frame Contemporary Art Finland, the Finnish Cultural Insitute in New York, the Consulate General of Finland in New York, and Makasiini Contemporary, which represents Susiraja in Finland. In the US, Susiraja is represented by Nino Mier Gallery.

Newly commissioned works presented at the Performa Biennial 2023

Finnish art will highlight the tenth edition of the Performa Biennial, a festival dedicated to interdisciplinary performance by visual artists, taking place in multiple locations in New York on November 1–19. Launched in 2013, Performa’s renowned Pavilions Without Walls program aims to reflect the social, geographical, and political landscapes of a different country and to present the work of emerging and established artists to New York’s audiences. In 2023, Finland will be the festival’s focus country, with several commissions and presentations of new works from contemporary artists based in Finland. The artists will be announced at a later date.

“The Performa Biennial is one of the most significant contemporary art events in North America, and offers a unique opportunity for Finnish artists to seize work opportunities and gain visibility”, describes Raija Koli, Director of Frame Contemporary Art Finland.

The Finnish Pavilion Without Walls is organized in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, Frame Contemporary Art Finland, the Consulate General of Finland in New York, and HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme. The Pavilion is supported by the Ministry of Education and Culture, Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation, and Saastamoinen Foundation.

Cultural exports and creative industries are growing

According to the Jarmo Sareva, Consul General of Finland in New York, Americans are paying more attention to Finland than ever. The interest extends from Finland’s foreign and security policy to arts and culture, the top-ranked education system, the latest technological innovations, and overall societal equality.

“Today, the relations between Finland and the United States are closer than ever. Finland is well known, and our image is positive in every respect. Our exports to the United States are growing rapidly, and interest in Finnish culture and creative industries is rising. This extraordinary year of Finnish contemporary art continues to help strengthen our country’s image also in the long term.”

Other Finnish artists showing in the United States this year include Kaarina Kaikkonen, whose commissioned piece Flying Rivers will be on display this spring at The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., as part of the Riverrun festival. Jenna Sutela’s site-specific installation will open at the Swiss Institute in New York’s East Village in May. In June, AllTogether, a group exhibition curated by Paris-based the Community, will showcase the extensive queer art collection of the Tom of Finland Foundation in conjunction with New York City’s Pride celebrations.

During 2022–23, Sámi artist Matti Aikio will present his work in New York as the Sámi Fellow at the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School. Aikio’s fellowship is organized in collaboration with Frame Contemporary Art Finland and The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. Aikio has also been invited to Scandinavia House’s newly opened survey on Arctic indigenous art, Arctic Highways, which also includes works of Sámi artist Marja Helander.

In Upstate New York, Buffalo AKG Art Museum will reopen its doors following a massive campus expansion project in June. As part of the expansion, the museum is launching The AKG Nordic Art and Culture Initiative, a unique, long-term platform for presenting artists across disciplines associated with the Nordic region. Finnish-born Janne Sirén has been at the museum’s helm since 2013. 

More information:

Kati Laakso
Director, Finnish Cultural Institute in New York
+1 (917) 692-0609, laakso@fciny.org 

Anssi Vallius
Special Adviser, Cultural Affairs and Creative Industries
Consulate General of Finland in New York
+1 (917) 515-7030, anssi.vallius@formin.fi 

Raija Koli
Director, Frame Contemporary Art Finland
+35844 728 9938, raija.koli@frame-finland.fi

A person wearing a bathing suit in front of a colourful studio backdrop. They are holding an umbrella with sausages hanging from it. Next to them is a small table with a candle holder and toy fishes on it.

Iiu Susiraja, Sausage cupid (2019). Courtesy of the artist, Makasiini Contemporary, and Nino Mier Gallery.