The Softy exhibition features artworks from HAM’s collections that combine handicrafts with soft materials. The intricate, time-consuming techniques involve countless hours of labour, while the soft materials introduce an element of friction between the method and content. The associations conveyed by the materials and techniques are sometimes supported but sometimes contradicted by the thematic content.
In their themes, the featured works address both private and social issues. Softness can be a veil for engaging in activism or for voicing a sharp social commentary. Through the materiality of their approach, the artists deal with personal memories and themes such as identity, nationality, and belonging. The traditional view of handicrafts being “women’s work” confined to domestic settings is challenged by alternative interpretations in this exhibition.
Handicrafts convey a sense of continuity. They transport us back in time, awakening personal memories, and evoking feelings of nostalgia. Meanwhile, the works in the exhibition also critically interrogate the affirmation of local and national identity through handicrafts. This is traditionally done by recycling vernacular patterns and seeking international acclaim through excellence in textile art. The immutability and anonymity associated with handicrafts fosters feelings of familiarity and togetherness.
The artists featured in the exhibition are: Ahmed Al-Nawas & Minna Henriksson, Niran Baibulat, Joona Braf, Paavo Halonen, Kholod Hawash, Karin Hellman, Helena Hietanen, Ulla Jokisalo, Lotta-Pia Kallio, Dzamil Kamanger, Jonna Karanka, Sari Kemppinen, Irma Kukkasjärvi, Ilari Kähönen, Arja Kärkkäinen, Klaus Nyqvist, Timo Rytkönen, Sonja Salomäki, Kimmo Schroderus, Uhra-Beata Simberg-Ehrström, Anu Tuominen, Pauliina Turakka Purhonen, Anna-Karoliina Vainio, Timo Vaittinen, Heli Vehkaperä and Jenni-Juulia Wallinheimo-Heimonen.