Frame Visual Art Finland’s newly published annual report gathers together the year 2014 with three major openings for strengthening the position of Finnish contemporary art both in Finland and abroad. Frame started a curatorial residence programme and a Frame Espresso conversation series. We also curated and produced an extensive focus country programme to the Spanish ARCOmadrid Art Fair.
Frame’s largest project of the year 2014 was the #FocusFinland pavilion at the ARCOmadrid art fair in Spain in February. The major display of Finnish contemporary art was carried out with several Finnish galleries, the Finnish Institute in Madrid and the Embassy of Finland in Madrid.
Alongside with Frame’s expert visitor programme that is targeted at art professionals, Frame started a HICP Helsinki International Curatorial Programme in collaboration with HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme. Four curators spent several weeks in Finland working and getting acquainted with Finnish contemporary art field.
Frame hosted a set of three Frame Espresso talks in which various processes and methods of the contemporary art field were debated. Frame organised also other talks in cooperation with other Helsinki-based art organisations. The main curator of the Venice Biennale 2015, Okwui Enwezor, visited as a guest speaker in Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki in May 2014. Altogether, the talks attracted approximately 600 people.
In her overview, Frame’s director Raija Koli emphasises that contemporary art is largely defined by politics and current developments of the world. This makes it an inseparable part of society and its phenomena. As examples, she mentions the Sydney Biennale in Australia and Manifesta – the European Biennal of Contemporary Art that was organised last year in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Frame cooperated with the both biennales in 2014. They gained attention for their exceptional selection of contemporary art but also for political reasons. Both biennales were threatened with boycotts. The critic targeted towards the Sydney Biennale was aimed at its sponsors, and the Manifesta was criticized for a new Russian bill, which intended to criminalise a behaviour that promotes homosexuality.
The boycotts inspired artists around the world to discuss whether building cultural bridges is a more effective tool for promoting contemporary art than the boycotts. The biennales were carried out in spite of the boycotts and a number of Finnish artists also participated in them. However, the boycotts were not insignificant: the sponsor who was criticized in the case of Sydney Biennale, withdrew from the biennale.
Frame produced an extensive programme to the Spanish art fair ARCOmadrid in February 2014. The Finnish programme at the fair consisted of 13 galleries and almost 40 artists. The #FocusFinland Pavilion featured two video installations by the Finnish artist Heta Kuchka.
The participation in theARCOmadrid was a joint effort of various organisations. There was a large a collateral programme in museums and galleries around Madrid which consisted of exhibitions, conversations as well as video and movie screenings.
The ARCOmadrid brought a lot of international attention and media coverage to Finnish contemporary art: #FocusFinland was mentioned in over 212 press cuttings with the audiences of about 51 million readers. The participating Finnish galleries made the sales of hundreds of thousands euros in ARCO. The artists also managed to gain international networks and new work opportunities.
Inviting international experts to Finland offers Finnish artists possibilities for creating networks and getting new working possibilities abroad. The expert visit programme is one of the most effective ways to make Finnish contemporary art more known internationally. Due to the visits, artists get more invitations to exhibitions and residencies. In addition, networking often leads to collaboration in new international projects.
Frame invited 25 foreign experts to Finland in 2014. The visitors met altogether 117 artists during their visits. The guests were experts from the field of contemporary art, such as professionals from art museums, biennales and art fairs as well as free curators, researchers and other experts. Frame tailors a special programme for each visitor according to one’s interests. The visits included meetings with artists and other professionals of the contemporary art field.
Curatorial residencies develop fresh networks
Frame started the HICP – Helsinki International Curatorial Residence Programme in cooperation with HIAP Helsinki International Artist Programme in 2014.
The curatorial residence programme gives international curators and critics a possibility to learn more about Finnish contemporary art and do, for example, research for their own projects. From 150 curators who applied for the last year’s programme, four professionals were chosen, representing different geographical areas and artistic fields.
Frame’s grants benefited 317 artists
Twice a year, Frame awards grants for artists and foreign institutions. Both Finnish and Finland-based artists who are going to carry out an exhibition abroad are allowed to apply for the grants. In addition, publications about Finnish contemporary art and written in other language than Finnish can be supported by the grants. Experts visiting Finland and those going abroad from Finland may also receive grants.
Last year 500 applications for grants were received, of which 112 projects were awarded with the grant. The grants were distributed for the value of 250 000 euros, and 317 artists were supported by them.
Pictures from top to bottom:
HICP curator Saša Nabergoj in Meet the Curator -conversation in Frame. Photograph: HIAP.
Elina Brotherus in the ARCOmadrid art fair. Photograph: Hannu Pakarinen / FNG.
Heini Nieminen: ”Glacier Depository” (detail), 2013. The artwork was a part of Sculpture by the Sea -exhibition in Australia. Participating in the exhibition was supported by Frame’s grants.
Translated from Finnish by Milla Suonio