East-West Exhibition Battle
2017, vinyl tapes on wooden boxes, dimensions variable
The work is based on the archive material collected by the Library of the Finnish National Gallery. They listed all foreign artists' exhibitions held in Finland 1880-2002 for Finland's Visual Art Bibliography on-line service. They also mention the organizers of the exhibitions, if known.
It was interesting to read the list. There were many exhibitions by Russian artists in Finland already in the beginning of the 20th century, but none of British or American until after the II World War. According to Marek Fields' Reinforcing Finland's Attachment to the West (2015), the high peak of the western propaganda in Finland was in the beginning of the 50s. That was the case with cinema, radio and music, but in the visual art, high peak was later in the mid of the 60s. Simultaneously, cultural exchange between Finland and Eastern Bloc were strongly supported by the State of Finland and the Soviet Union - a kind of propaganda battle.
The culmination point was the year 1974, when ARS 74 exhibition took place in the Ateneum Art Museum. At the same time there was another big exhibition showing social realism in the Helsinki Kunsthalle: Art of the Soviet Union. Former represented the Western type of art, and latter Soviet Union's soviet idea of art. The physical distance of these two venues were 500-700 meters.
We used the listing made by the Library of the Finnish National Gallery and picked up exhibitions representing Anglo-American and Eastern Block ideology. The result is the time line, which makes visible East-West dichotomy through art exhibitions from 1939 (the Winter War) to 1989 (Fall of the Berlin Wall).