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Helsinki Biennial 2023: New Directions May Emerge

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Helsinki Biennial presents around 30 artists or collectives from Finland and around the world. This year, the biennial’s main venues are Vallisaari Island and HAM Helsinki Art Museum. You can also experience artworks in various locations in the city centre.

Works by Diana PolicarpoBita RazaviTabita RezaireTuula Närhinen and INTERPRT will take over the large arched halls and a gallery space at HAM Helsinki Art Museum.

“As contamination changes world-making projects, mutual worlds – and new directions – may emerge.”  Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing 

Helsinki Biennial 2023 adopts its title New Directions May Emerge from a quote by anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, who proposes learning from (the art of) “noticing”. Paying close attention to other people, animals, plants, environment, data, and other entities around us, the biennial explores how we might find new ways of living in, and understanding, the world.     

The biennial unfolds through multimodal artistic acts of noticing, sensing, listening, and sense-making. Moving from humans to non-humans and between varying scales – a spectrum spanning data on the smallest scale through to islands and speculative new worlds denoting the largest – the biennial is an invitation to consider how recognizing small or otherwise invisible details might prompt possibilities to act, to imagine differently, and to reconcile the impact of human intervention and environmental and technological damage.    

Three main conceptual threads are introduced – contamination, regeneration and agency – not as themes but intersectional vectors through which practices and conversations convene. The Baltic Sea is one of the most contaminated bodies of water in the world, polluted by waste from regimes of violence and unregulated industrialism. How might contamination become a force for positive change? How might the biennial nurture regeneration of the social body? How might agency extend beyond humans to other nonhuman entities and assemblages, including artificial intelligences? How might these threads be channelled into rethinking how practices and future worlds are conceived?     

Helsinki Biennial 2023 takes its cue from the island, the regenerative energy of nature, and data of all kinds. It gathers together natural science and cosmology, the supernatural and artificial intelligence, data science and science fiction, the sense-making practices of humans and nonhumans, sentient and otherworldly beings – so that new directions may emerge.    

Curated by Joasia Krysa 

With curatorial intelligences Museum of Impossible Forms, TBA21-Academy, Critical Environmental Data, ViCCA @ Aalto Arts and A.I. Entity