International Curatorial Insight to Helsinki Contemporary: HC Guest Curator programme launches in June 2017

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Photo of Michael Petry: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders

As part of Helsinki Contemporary’s international work, the gallery launches the new HC Guest Curator programme together with Frame Finland and HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme. Through the programme, an international curator is annually invited to visit the Finnish contemporary art field and to realise an exhibition at Helsinki Contemporary. In the framework of the programme, the aim is to present a bold international exhibition showcase in Helsinki, introduce a new content viewpoint to the gallery's exhibition programme and to support the work of artists represented by the gallery. The programme also strives to integrate experts more closely into the Finnish contemporary art field and to expand the network of experts.

”Exhibition opportunities and the marketplace abroad open up to a very few selected – what we need are new and versatile ways for supporting talented and ambitious artists. In our experience, one of the most effective ways of doing this is to bring key persons from the field such as curators to work in Helsinki, to get acquainted with local artists, and to see and experience artworks. In the international contemporary art field curators have a lot of influence”, explains Mari Männistö, Director of the gallery.   

The selection of the invited curator emphasises curatorial engagements and the possibility of linking the cooperation project to a more extensive work of the curator, the experience of international exhibition activity and the interest in getting acquainted with the Finnish contemporary art field.


The programme is launched in June 2017 with the exhibition The Book of the WORD, curated by Michael Petry (b. 1960, Texas), a London-based, American-born author, curator, artist and Director of MOCA London. Petry brings together 18 contemporary artists to explore a contention, that with the digital and online age words have become more important than ever. From the gallery’s represented artists participating are Lukas Göthman, Jukka Korkeila and Pilvi Takala, visiting artists include e.g. the pioneer of kinetic art Liliane Lijn (b. 1939, New York City) and Gavin Turk (b. 1967, Guildford), known for the infamous Young British Artists (YBA) group.

The exhibition curated by Petry is based on an upcoming, namesake book that will be published in 2018 (Thames & Hudson). The book looks into the particular area of art making that involves language. An exhibition derived from Petry’s previous book Natura Morte: Contemporary Artists Reinvigorate the Still-Life Tradition (Thames & Hudson, 2013) has been touring in exhibitions at e.g. Hå gamle prestgard in Stavanger, Norway; Bohuslän Museum in Sweden; The Four Domes Pavilion – Museum of Contemporary Art Branch of the National Museum in Wrocław, Poland; and Guildhall Art Gallery in London.

Group exhibition: The Book of the WORD at Helsinki Contemporary June 9 – July 2, 2017.

Talking Curator session with Michael Petry is held at Helsinki Contemporary on Wednesday, 7 June at 4:30 – 5:30 pm.

The next exhibition for the HC Guest Curator programme will be held in December 2018.

Our partners in HC Guest Curator programme are Frame Finland and HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme.

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