Shifting Identities

Shifting Identities

MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome

Jani Ruscica, Evolutions (still), 2008. Film. Courtesy of the Artist and Otto Zoo, Milan.

June 18, 2014

Shifting Identities
Identity in contemporary art between Finland and Estonia

May 21–September 14, 2014

MACRO Testaccio
Pavilion B
Piazza O. Giustiniani, 4
00153 Rome

Curated by Ludovico Pratesi

The exhibition is organised by Väinö Tanner Foundation, Finland

The exhibition Shifting Identities brings together, for the first time, 21 new-generation artists from two diverse yet complementary countries, Finland and Estonia, who reflect on their identity. The two nations belong to different geographical regions, Finland to the Scandinavian countries and Estonia to the Baltic states, but a series of factors such as history, language, customs and ethnic similarities, demarcate a closeness rather than distance between them.

Separated by the Baltic Sea, Finland and Estonia are united by a history shared at various stages and conditioned by the proximity of the former Soviet Union, which critically influenced the development of the two peoples, both under dictatorship and democracy. The difficult and complex relation with Russia has made Estonia’s possibility of national definition even more problematic, whereas for Finland Russia has represented a challenge or threat that has not been dispelled. While the question of identity was never a focal point in Finnish post-war art between 1945 and 1970 (excluding The Harvesters in the ’70s), it has become a crucial theme for the artists of most resent generations both in Finland and in Estonia.

These identities, presently in sharp contrast with all the contradictions of globalization, are analyzed by the artists from private and political, social and anthropological, geographical and symbolic points of view. We see a sometimes vague and fluctuating geography, privileging expressive languages of narrative and a realistic matrix, such as photography and video, but with interesting expansion in three-dimensional forms of sculpture and installation, maintaining awareness of living in a world with reflexive and analytic, solitary and introspective, involved and rigorous, ironic and incisive nature.

In this process of redefining the concept of identity and its most profound content, the activity of the artists becomes enlightening due to the sheer complexity of its deepest implications, often concentrated in almost invisible details, rather than in the analysis of macroscopic questions, in a continued drift from macro to micro and vice versa. There is a common theme of discussion that is both ample but restricted at the same time, analyzing this argument not as a subject, but as a territory, apparently flat and banal, but in reality complicated and disconnected.

The artists recount an identity in progress, which their work renders profound and ambiguous when the whole of Europe is going through a crucial and complex period. The exhibition is a form of reflection of the changing and fluctuating identity of the inhabitants of Finland and Estonia, structured via similarities dividing their respective geographical areas to constitute a separate entity, reflecting on itself and its position in the global world.

Participating contemporary artists:
Reio Aare (EE), Adel Abidin (FI), Aino Kannisto (FI), Flo Kasearu (EE), Paul Kuimet (EE), Riikka Kuoppala (FI), Mikko Kuorinki (FI), Eva Labotkin (EE), Antti Laitinen (FI), Liisa Lounila (FI), Tanja Muravskaja (EE), Kristina Norman (EE), Nelli Palomäki (FI), Mark Raidpere (EE), Anna Rokka (FI), Jani Ruscica (FI), Eva Sepping (EE), Liina Siib (EE), Pia Sirén (FI), Pilvi Takala (FI), 10×10 meters (EE)
Historical section:
Siim-Tanel Annus (EE), Jan-Olof Mallander (FI), Jüri Okas (EE), Carl-Erik Ström (FI), Ilkka-Juhani Takalo Eskola (FI), Stuart Wrede (FI)

For more information
Ludovico Pratesi:
Väinö Tanner Foundation:

For press inquiries, please contact
Allegra Seganti: allegraseganti [​at​]
Flaminia Casucci: flaminiacasucci [​at​]

Shifting Identities is documented in an Italian/ English catalogue of the same title, published by SilvanaEditoriale,

Shifting Identities at MACRO Testaccio
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MACRO – Museum of Contemporary Art of Rome
June 18, 2014

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