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Artists' Association MUU » Personal City 10 – 29 April 2012 MUU gallery
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Personal City 10 – 29 April 2012 MUU gallery

personal_city_email_kutsuPersonal City is a group exhibition showcasing 17 artists. Defining the relationship of art or the artist to the urban space, the works in the show open up new perspectives on the urban environment or interact with it. From the MUU gallery, the exhibition expands into the public space, enlivening the everyday experience in streets, shops and business premises.

The essential thing in a city is not so much the buildings as the people. On the other hand, a specific style of urban planning creates specific conditions for life and interaction. The personal city consists of the lives of countless people which we only see glimpses of in public space.” (Gun Holmström & Petra Martinez)

Produced by the MUU gallery, Personal City features works selected from submissions sent in an open application process by the 600 members of the Artists’ Association MUU. The works were selected by Hanne Ivars, Duncan Juvonen, Varpu Lukka, Timo Soppela and Outi Sunila. The exhibition is part of the programme of the Helsinki Photography Biennial 2012. http://www.hpb.fi

Marja Hakala
Gun Holmström and Petra Martinez
Tuomo Kangasmaa and Minna Kangasmaa
Johanna Ketola and Anna Estarriola
Jussi Kivi
Kristiina Korpela
Mikko Kuorinki
Johanna Lecklin
Juho Nikkilä
Markus Renvall
Riiko Sakkinen
Lorenzo Servi
Minna Suoniemi
Denise Ziegler


Pro AV


1. MUU gallery, Lönnrotinkatu 33, Tue­-Fri 12­-17, Sat­-Sun 12­-16

2. Work: Denise Ziegler: Kolo (Hole).
Place: Vihersisustuspalvelu O. Valo Oy, Lönnrotinkatu 3, Mon­-Fri 9­-17, Sat

3. Work: Marja Hakala: The Lost Glove and Other Things.
Place: Kopio Niini, Lönnrotinkatu 21, Mon­-Fri 8­-17.

4. Work: Riiko Sakkinen: Syria for Dummies.
Place: Sammakko bookstore, Eerikinkatu 7, Mon­-Fri 10­-20, Sat 11­-17.

5. Work: Kristiina Korpela: Builders (Cape Town ­ Helsinki).
Place: Fence of SRV Yhtiöt Oyj construction site at Teollisuuskatu 3.

6. Work: Gun Holmström & Petra Martinez: Matchbox.
Place: Display window of Piste-Kioski, Tallinnanaukio square, Itäkeskus

7. Work: Markus Renvall: Mayday Mayday ­ Helicopters in Blizzard.
Place: MUU Monday, MUU galleria, 23.04.2012


For a few years now, Marja Hakala has been taking photographs with her mobile phone of objects dropped by people in the streets. Some of the lost gloves have been put up in a visible place in the hope that the owner would find them, for some it is too late. A video featuring more than a hundred of the photos is on show at Kopio Niini at Lönnrotinkatu Street 21.

The work is a documentary film about the eastern districts of Helsinki, shot with a matchbox camera. We tag along a small schoolboy to the Tallinanaukio square at Itäkeskus, to the shopping centre in Kontula, to footpaths in Kurkimäki and to the metro station in Mellunmäki. The visual style of the film is reminiscent of old silent films, and of course the long tradition of pinhole cameras. The piece is both a site-specific documentary and a story about life circumstances, which are ultimately similar everywhere regardless of place or country. Customers at an open air market cafe, a shopper at the Itäkeskus mall, a Romanian street beggar, a busker, a dog owner, children and young people – the short character studies build up into a portrait of the time and the place. The work is on show at Piste-Kioski, Itäkeskus and the MUU gallery.

The artist couple Tuomo and Minna Kangasmaa decided to investigate how a former sausage factory in the Limingantulli industrial park in Oulu is developing from a creatively reused cultural space into a depressing high-rise residential district. For the photographic series, they staged a scene in the yard outside their studio, combining something private and collective. The disused industrial area on the fringes of the centre of Oulu is gradually turning into a residential area. The facilities of the former sausage factory still exist there today, hosting small industries, businesses, a canteen, a rock club, even a studio space for artists. Collectively, the actors in the area create functional urban culture which serves the environment without any programmatic motives. The latest newcomers in the area are residential high-rise buildings, which will in the space of two years have put paid to cultural activities in the area. Currently, however, the final shape of the area remains unclear in an interesting way.

In their video work Within visual artists Johanna Ketola and Anna Estarriola have activated city spaces using such disciplines as performative arts, cinema and photography. Working together with a group of people from Munich in autumn 2011, Ketola and Estarriola directed them in creating a series of performances in the public space. Based on colours and everyday behaviour patterns, the performances can be seen as camouflaged situations or cinematographic scenes that melt into the everyday life of the city.

Completed in 2012, Styx is a photographic installation consisting of images and text that depict a river of waste floating under the city in tunnels. Owing to the particular nature of the subject, the work attains almost psychedelic dimensions. The piece is based on the artist’s personal underground explorations.

All cities are continually demolishing and building things, especially in conjunction with major events. The city is a process. Construction sites alter the city’s character temporarily, renovated and new buildings do it for the entire cityscape more or less permanently.

Kristiina Korpela has photographed dilapidated buildings, walls in particular, as well as construction sites in Helsinki and Cape Town. She has then brought the pictures of construction sites in the South to sites in the North, mounting the pictures on the walls, fences and temporary structures of a construction site in Helsinki for the builders and passers-by to see, with the aim of bringing together builders and cultures of construction. The pictures are allowed to be destroyed in the processes of construction, and in the South African way they can be complemented by other material such as stickers, texts and posters. Pictures of building sites in Helsinki will be taken on a reciprocal visit to Cape Town in 2014.

The work will be on show for pedestrians on the fence of a construction site of the SRV Group in Vallila in Helsinki (Teollisuuskatu 3).

Each day in September 2011, Mikko Kuorinki run for one hour around the Helsinki Prison area (aka Sörnäinen Prison) following the walls. Altogether, he ran 141 laps, 220 kilometres. For the last six days he walked, because he had fever. Mikko Kuorinki’s photographic work is shown in the MUU gallery.

The Boxer video is part of the series She Had Seven Dresses for the Trip, Just in Case They Would Meet (2012) based on everyday stories which Johanna Lecklin approaches with humour. The artist has used a window of her flat facing the courtyard in Kallio in Helsinki as a personal stage on which she appears in different roles.

Night Construction is presented using a device familiar from the commercial world – a lightbox. In the work, Nikkilä combines fractal images with photos. Fractal renderings are computer graphics created by mathematical functions, resulting in a ‘chaos game’. When we look at fractals, we see portraits of chaos. In Nikkilä’s work, fractals also symbolize continuity, recurrence and complexity.

Mayday Mayday – Helicopters in Blizzard is a community art work which aims to engage young men to play in the urban space. In Renvall’s interactive piece, helicopters find themselves in trouble because of a blizzard produced by the viewers. The work contains several different functions that can be operated through sensors. Complete control of the work requires two persons, but it is possible to play the piece alone as well. The idea is to initiate a collective game.

Mayday Mayday is an interactive work that functions both visually and as a sound machine. While using the controller to steer the helicopters in the blizzard, the viewer can simultaneously play the sounds. There is a monitor in the background with one or more videos playing in it, and a monitor which shows the viewer and allows the viewer to alter the picture.

Syria for Dummies is a compilation of pictures from the biggest Syrian cities of Damascus and Aleppo. The photographs were taken last September when the Syrian conflict was not yet visible in the centres of the largest cities. The people took a guarded view of photography, however, and the artist was once actually arrested with his local guide for having photographed an unmarked car of the security forces.

In the photographs, Riiko Sakkinen focuses on three subjects: consumer culture, pictures of president Bashar al-Assad, and graffiti. The impact of Western sanctions on Syria were not yet felt in September, and there was global merchandise available from chocolate to cigarettes. Pro-government supporters put pictures of the president in shop windows, creating a parallel between the political leader and consumer goods. The graffiti is not directed against the government, but against Israel, and those outside schools convey messages to girls from boys in love. The work is on show in the Sammakko publisher’s bookshop (Eerikinkatu 7).

Lorenzo Servi is an Italian architect and visual artist based in Helsinki. His photographic work aims to criticize environments, to make people wonder, to make them ask questions and to inspire them to search for meaning by showing alternative viewpoints of the world. His most recent project, entitled ‘mute spaces’ is a series of digitally altered photographs of architecture in Helsinki that invite the viewer to question what is real and what is digital. The middle ground between the two is a place where viewers are invited to perceive the city in a new way, allowing them to notice things they had not noticed before.

In around 1965, Brian Coe designed an alphabet to determine how much of each letter could be eliminated without seriously affecting legibility. Can the same approach be used in making images? How many details can be deleted from a photo without losing the sense of photorealism? This is how the technique for ‘mute spaces’ was born.

Metropolis 2012 is a video work about the urban jungle, movement and rhythm, and about changes in time and new generations. The video was filmed on b/w Super 8 film and transferred to video. The soundtrack refers to the silent film era. The piece depicts young men using the urban space creatively, doing Parkour at a construction site in Itä-Pasila, a 1970s housing area in Helsinki. Suoniemi thought they looked a lot like monkeys or some other flexible and skillful creatures jumping in the jungle from tree to tree. The site, near the artist’s home, had interested her for some time; the temporary scaffolding erected under the footbridges created a forest of poles in the famous asphalt jungle of Pasila, Helsinki.

The title of the video refers to the 1927 German expressionist film Metropolis by Fritz Lang. A portrayal of a futuristic urban dystopia, it depicts the social crisis between workers and capitalist owners. With the title, Suoniemi wants to create a play with the urban environment and the boys’ leisure act. Creative use of urban space, when not commercial, is often treated as something illegal, disturbing or threatening. It is not useful or productive, so it is seen as unnecessary. In the video, the boys take over the urban space and make it theirs again.

Denise Ziegler’s work appeals to the viewer’s curiosity. Drawn by a soft voice, customers at the florist’s can for a moment enter another world by peering into a knothole in a piece of birch wood. The work exploits the time customers at the flower shop have to wait while their bouquet is made. The work is on show next door to the MUU gallery at the Vihersisustuspalvelu O. Valo florist’s (Lönnrotinkatu 31).