The Turku Biennial 2013 has come to its end and packing the works is under way. Thank you to everyone, the artists, the curators, the audience and our partners!
Though organised every other summer, the Turku Biennial with its fringe events is actually a continuous process, some stage of which is always ongoing. The Biennial is a considerable challenge for the invited artists, too, as new works are created for each thematic exhibition.
The preparations for the Turku Biennial 2015 are already running – what will be the theme for the next Biennial, and above all who will be the artists?
This summer visitors to the Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova Museum have had the opportunity to vote for their favourite work in the Turku Biennial. The biggest number of votes by far was given to Petri Ala-Maunus' visually and technically impressive oil paintings Nightclubbing in Never-Never Land, No Man's Land and Paradise Ever After. A total of 716 votes was given, out of which 292 votes, or 41 per cent, to Ala-Maunus' works. The runner-up was Katarina Reuter with her series of paintings entitled Limits of the World (121 votes) and in third place were Mom&Jerry with their provocative installation Can you handle the truth. The winner of the Turku Biennial receives an award of 1 000 euros.
Ala-Maunus' paintings have touched many visitors personally. The paintings draw the viewer into an utopian world, fundamentally different from the reality that surrounds us. Visitors to the exhibition have found in the paintings a meditative state which arouses many emotions.
It is as if I were weightless and without obligations or sorrow.
Imaginative, impressive, different, touches the soul.
An artwork in which you can find yourself.
Breathtaking. Felt like I had fallen into a dream world of beauty and horror.
Petri Ala-Maunus' skillful technique is often mentioned in the audience's comments. On the one hand the works have been deeply touching on a mental level and on the other hand the visitors noted the artist's respect for the tradition of painting.
A postmodern approach that re-evaluates the traditions of oil painting and landscape painting. An examination and demarcation of kitsch.
Demanding, strong, light, skillful in an ”old-fashioned” way, ageless, and does not claim to be more than it is.
Added value to traditional kitsch.
I've never seen anything so beautiful. Wonderful use of colour.
Wonderful colour technique, understandable. Brings up images from the bottom of the ocean to a volcanic eruption...
Superb on both a technical and artistic level! You can look at this for a long time. It is beautiful and powerful.
A number one choice for a person inspired by more traditional visual art. Wonderful use of colour and it leaves space for your own imagination.
Ala-Maunus' works were also praised for being approachable and understandable.
An impressive mental landscape has been presented in an understandable way.
Doesn't require explanations (unlike many other works in the show).
A masterpiece, easy to look at and understandable, magical and utopistic, a manifestation of the idyll.
Multi-layered, beautiful, dream-like works. The first work of art that both myself and my boyfriend liked.
Petri Ala-Maunus lives and works in Tampere, Finland. His work is a combination of careful and uncompromising brushwork and a relaxed, sometimes even humoristic attitude. He is not afraid to use imagery that is linked to kitsch, such as sunsets or paradise landscapes. Ala-Maunus has held many private exhibitions and taken part in group exhibitions both in Finland and internationally. His works can be found in several museum collections.
Exhibition visitors have been able to arrange various mood pieces during the Turku Biennial on an idyll scale of cool, warm and hot. This week cards with child topics are placed on the far edges of the scale. On one card the Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's Six Children of Bullerby dance merrily around the Christmas Tree and on another card sweet curly-headed children gather flowers on a ledge under the protection of a guardian angel. At the top of the angel card reads ”For the enjoyment and knowledge of children”.
Both images evoke nostalgic feelings. Can idyll be true? Are dreams and unattainability inevitably included in the concept? A sense of yearning to the past can easily distance one from reality. Why is childhood so often compared to the concept of idyll? Have we forgot how strongly we experienced everything as a child?
Out of the two chosen options Astrid Lindgren's depiction of childhood is considered more idyllic this week. Lindgren's portayl of life in the three farm houses of Bullerby probably conveys somehow the collective nordic experience of childhood.
As the heat waves of the summer turn in to a cooler August, the event programme of Turku Biennial activates once more. A round of guest lectures and special tours in Finnish is kicked off at the beginning of the month and continued in the form of events suitable for the entire family; firstly, the Night of the Arts and secondly, Childrens' Biennial Day.
The public guided tours in Finnish, Swedish and English have attracted folk to the museum throughout the spring and the summer. On these tours both the historical side of Aboa Vetus and the contemporary art side of Ars Nova, which now exhibits on two floors Turku Biennial, have been visited.
Also the Omatila gallery now functioning as the Idyll room seems to reach our visitors week after week. On week 31 the same familiar cards were attached to the Idyll scale; picturesque scenery images and cards depicting newly weds with shimmery rings were placed on the hot end of the scale whereas winter images were attached on the cooler end. It has been a true joy to follow both the silent discussion in the form of cards and to enjoy the engaged dialogue occurring on the museum's tours. It would seem that many visitors have enjoyed getting heard. In addition, the art works themselves have inspired our visitors even to longer discussion with the guide. An idyll, however, can also be found confusing as questions such as ”What is an idyll?” and ”Could you explain the theme of the exhibition in more detail?” are two very common questions asked on the tours. One's idyll isn't always found from our exhibition which, however, hopefully functions at least as a launching pad for the search of one's idyll.
The event programme starts once again next week. With the help of experts from various fields ranging from art critics to music science, Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova invites its visitors to an open conversation of an idyll. Note that the lectures and special tours are held in Finnish.
This week the idyll of the week studies the purpose of Omatila gallery, which during Turku Biennial carries the name Idyllroom; the possibility given to our museum visitors to leave a mark on the Turku Biennial exhibition.
Omatila gallery is an exhibition space of its own located within our museum. This gallery, which does not require the purchase of an entrance ticket when visiting, has not only been used by such artists as Maaret Syväoja and Pete Koivunen for private exhibitions, but also for exhibiting the results of various projects executed by Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova. One such was the end result of the projects Tastes of Mind which was produced in co-operation with a group of local home help carers and artist Mary Hyunhee Song. All in all Omatila has ben used for numerous purposes throughout the years. This year the exhibition space was given the task of functioning as the opening room of Turku Biennial; after all, the information texts have been placed in Omatila, not the two floors worth of exhibition space in Ars Nova. This gallery offers the visitor a chance to relax. The orange rocking chairs and the exhibition catalogue form a calming break in the midst of the museum visit.
One of Omatila gallery's most eye-catching elements is the Idyll scale which greets the visitor when entering the room. Ever since the opening of Turku Biennial in May, our visitors have had the chance to place cards on one of the room's walls, now painted in a calming gray colour. The cards can be attached to the wall and simultanenously be ranked as very idyllic, somewhat idyllic and not that idyllic at all. Every week the wall has been filled visitors' interpretations of what an idyll is really like.
The opportunity given to the museum visitors to have a say was extended in the form of a public vote of Turku Biennial. In this vote the visitors can vote for their favourite art work in the whole exhibiton. The winner artist will be rewarded with 1000 euros at the end of August. You can place your vote on the second floor of Ars Nova.
IN COOPERATION WITH