Fresh names create a new present at Mänttä Art Festival

For over 20 years Mänttä Art Festival, an annual festival arranged in a small town of Mänttä 80 kilometres north-east of Tampere, has celebrated summer with contemporary art exhibitions. This summer, the theme of the festival is artists in Finland with a foreign background. The curators Kalle Hamm and Dzamil Kamanger have invited a representative sample of international contemporary artists working in Finland to exhibit their works at the upcoming festival. The exhibition uusi nykyisyys | new present presents 43 artists or artist groups.

“The internationality of the art scene in Finland has grown significantly over the past decade. With the upcoming exhibition, we hope to open the eyes of the Finnish audience to the versatility and plurality of voices among us”, the curators explain.

“National borders seem artificial nowadays. In fine arts, cultural mobility has long been commonplace. Cultural transitions occur whenever people meet, especially when crossing borders”, Hamm and Kamanger note.

“The theme of the exhibition is the ‘new present’. Nowadays, history is written simultaneously as it happens. Media is fast-paced and multivoiced. This is also reflected in contemporary art; art oscillates, simultaneously referring to multiple places and temporalities. At the same time, it comments on and reproduces the present, highlighting concurrent changes.”

“The exhibition’s artworks deal with identity and involvement, history and the present, reality and senses, nature, temporality and the voice of communities in a public space”, the curators state.

Instead of traditional techniques, installation art and community art projects take centre stage.

One example of these community artworks is a project by Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen recording and photographing people, who form a statistical cross-section of Finland’s population. The fourth floor of the Pekilo Exhibition Hall is transformed by the artwork of Meri Linna. Pekilo’s roof terrace is also once more occupied, this time by artist duo Harrie Liveart.

The exhibition includes eight artist duos and three groups. Geographically, the artists are from various parts of the world including Pakistan, Mexico, Estonia, the United States, Japan and Iran. Most of the artists reside in Southern Finland or only work in Finland for a part of the year.

Pekilo is the main venue of the XX Mänttä Art Festival, but the event is once again visible in the townscape of Mänttä. For example, this year will see the unveiling of Martta Tuomaala’s multi-channeled video installation at the Mänttä Town Hall. The Festival collaborates with the Serlachius Museums, the region’s flagship museum, which will display artworks by William Dennisuk, Mark Mitchell and Pira Cousin on Taavetinsaari Island, next to the museum’s contemporary art space Gösta Pavilion.

The XX Mänttä Art Festival is open for public 14 June – 31 August daily from 10 am. to 6 pm.

Read more on the Mänttä Art Festival website.

Artists of Mänttä Art Festival 2015.

The photo: Jaanus Samma with Alo Paistik, photograph from series Applied Art for a Gay Club.