September 24, 2015 - Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma - Demonstrating Minds / Markus Heikkerö: Life's a bitch, baby...
September 24, 2015

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma

Mika Rottenberg, Squeeze, 2010. Courtesy Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery, New York, and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York. © Mika Rottenberg.

Demonstrating Minds
Disagreements in Contemporary Art
October 9, 2015–March 20, 2016

Markus Heikkerö
Life's a bitch, baby...
October 9, 2015–January 10, 2016

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
Mannerheiminaukio 2
FI-00100 Helsinki
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The Demonstrating Minds exhibition looks at a highly topical theme through the work of 19 artists and artist groups: art as social commentary. Throughout history, artists have shown varying degrees of interest in commenting on world affairs and changing social values. If the political climate of the 1960s was imbued with an earnest hope for a better tomorrow, any such remaining innocence has been stamped out by the arrival of the 2010s, an era in which extremist groups have strengthened their foothold and polarization has grown in various parts of the world. Any faith we might have in humankind’s ability to live harmoniously alongside others who think and believe differently has been thrust onto shaky ground.

Artists: Kader Attia, Sylvie Blocher, Tanja Boukal, Vadim Fishkin, Rainer Ganahl, Lise Harlev, Clara Ianni, Amal Kenawy, Cristina Lucas, Goshka Macuga, Cinthia Marcelle & Tiago Mata Machado, Jonathan Meese, Tom Molloy, Tanja Muravskaja, R.E.P. Revolutionary Experimental Space, Mika Rottenberg, Jari Silomäki, Mladen Stilinović, Suohpanterror

Curators: Marja Sakari, Kati Kivinen, Patrik Nyberg, Jari-Pekka Vanhala

Over the past few years, demonstrations around the world have become a routine spectacle relayed to us in real time in news footages and social media. Public protests, riots, activists and terrorists have become the stock iconography of our age. The greedy pace at which information travels sees images devoured at lightning pace, each one swiped away and instantly replaced by a new one. In the catalogue produced for the exhibition media theorist Boris Groys discusses the dominant role of media imagery in today’s iconographic spectrum and the challenges this poses for artists who—rather than merely document reality—are keener to debate its fundamental nature.

Contemporary art offers a channel for taking a stand on world affairs and systems of social governance on a more complex, personal level than pure document. Instead of just reporting and acknowledging current events, art offers an interpretative angle, leaving the ultimate conclusions up to the viewer. Most of the works featured in Demonstrating Minds do not simply address a specific conflict or recent world event; rather they make a statement of a more universal yet also particular nature, often framed through metaphor or a deeply personal perspective.

The title and key connecting thread of the Demonstrating Minds exhibition is the French philosopher Jacques Rancière’s theory on politics as dissensus, the foundation upon which democracy is based. Art, too, is at its most potent when permitted to fulfil its fundamental mandate: to think for itself, speak its own language—and disagree.

Markus Heikkerö (b. 1952) is one of the key figures of Finnish underground art. Heikkerö’s art draws its themes from his childhood surrounded by art and culture, nourished by internationalism of the age.

Markus Heikkerö’s career has been wildly varied yet at the same time extremely consistent. The amazingly wide spectrum of his artistic endeavours is mind blowing. While still a minor, he became involved in the underground movement back in the 1960s, when the startling imagery of his paintings first sent shockwaves through the Finnish artworld. Later he became active on the music scene (including bands Sperm and Sleepy Sleepers), while the 1980s saw him take up spray painting. Audiences of the new millennium know him chiefly for his extremely large canvases, the themes of which continue to hark back to his early career. The exhibition’s ambiguous title—taken from one of his early prints, Life’s a bitch, baby...—reflects the key preoccupations of Heikkerö’s art: love, death, pleasure and eternal return.

The backbone of the exhibition consists of paintings, drawings and archival materials from the extensive donation made by Heikkerö to Kiasma and The Finnish National Gallery’s Archive collections in 2013.

Curator: Saara Hacklin


More info:
Marja Sakari, Chief Curator: T +358 (0)294 500 519 / marja.sakari [​at​]
Saara Hacklin, Curator: T +358 (0)294 500 538 / saara.hacklin [​at​]

Demonstrating Minds exhibition has been made possible by the kind support of the Austrian Embassy, Helsinki; Culture Ireland, Dublin; Institut français; and Embassy of Spain, Helsinki.


Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma is part of the Finnish National Gallery together with Ateneum Art Museum and Sinebrychoff Art Museum.

Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma
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Life's a bitch, baby...
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