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Paweł Althamer


What matters most in Paweł Althamer’s collaborative works is not what the end result looks like, but the process itself and playing together. His work for Helsinki Biennial was produced in collaboration with Suomenlinna Open Prison.

The communal approach is a resource for Paweł Althamer’s (b. 1967) artistic practice. This artist, trained in sculpture, involves his family members, neighbours and people he meets in the street. This collaboration produces sculptures – which the artist calls totems – that are the traces of the process that has taken place. His practice also involves moving in the public space and bringing the ways of making art to where people are. During his solo exhibition at HAM in 2019, for example, Althamer expanded his exhibition to Jakomäki, a suburb of Helsinki. What matters most in collaborative works is not what the end result looks like, but the process itself and playing together.

Searching for your own boundaries is part of Althamer’s art. The artist’s own body is the closest subject available to him, and through it he seeks contact with other people. By making art together with others he also provides the participants with the opportunity for a new kind of self-reflection. Althamer has produced collaborative works in a suburb of Warsaw where he has lived for many years. A suburban identity is an important part of what he is as an artist. In his participatory projects, Althamer does not recognize societal or social differences.

Paweł Althamer: Seven Prisoners, 2020 ©Maija Toivanen/HAM/Helsinki Biennial 2021

Seven prisoners, 2020

Paweł Althamer’s work for the Helsinki Biennial was produced in collaboration with Suomenlinna Prison and his artist friends Leszek Molski and Jacek Taszakovski. The entire film was shot in Finland, with Althamer playing the role of one of seven inmates that escape from prison. After crossing the sea and varied landscapes, the fugitives finally find their way back to nature and to themselves.

The work has two parts. The first is a VR film enabling the viewer to join the fugitives on their getaway and observe their relationship with surrounding reality and technology. The second part is a documentary about the making of the VR film.

Photo 1: Matti Pyykkö/Helsinki Biennial

Paweł Althamer

Seven Prisoners
VR short film / Documentary film

Written & directed by: Paweł Althamer

Cinematography: Leszek Molski

Production Manager: Zuzanna Małycha

Participants: Paweł Althamer, Juha-Petri Kuronen, Lasse Kärkkäinen, Jere Louhivaara, Harri Mattila, Reetta Haarajoki, Marcin Althamer, Pessi Majander, Anonymous actors, Anonymous extras

Camera Operator: Mariusz Laszuk

Camera Assistant: Szymon Gonera

Gaffer / Lightning: Wojciech Ratajczak

Sound Engineer: Kajetan Zakrzewski

Second Unit: Jacek Taszakowski

Set and Prop designer: Marcin Althamer, Paweł Althamer

Stagehand: Elias Ukkonen, Erno Tainio

Costume Designer: Katarzyna Śródka, Agnieszka Bonas

Make-up artist: Tiina Karttunen

Filming equipment: VR Heros, Mariusz Laszuk, Kinos Rentals Oy

Light Equipment: Valofirma The Light House Oy, Light House Guru, Cezary Ziontek

Catering: Urban Donkey Catering

Editing: Leszek Molski

Stitching: Mariusz Laszuk

Colour correction: Leszek Molski

Sound mastering: Kajetan Zakrzewski

Synchronous effects: Maciej Krakówka M.P.S.E, Jan Chojnacki M.P.S.E

SOUNDPLACE Tomasz Dukszta

Music: POKUSA, Natan Kryszk – saxophone, Teodor Olter – percussion, Tymek Bryndal – bass


Pirkko Siitari & Taru Tappola, Head Curators of Helsinki Biennial 2021

Maiju Salo, Suomenlinna Prison

Viikki Research Farm – University of Helsinki, Soutuseura SMARK Ry, Raittiusyhdistys Koitto ry, Clarion Hotel Jätkäsaari, Sieriporo Safaris, YLE Finnish Broadcasting Company YTD / rekvisiitta

Managing Producer: Zuzanna Małycha, Leszek Molski

Co-producer: Filmujemy, Leszek Molski

HAM Executive Producer: Satu Metsola

HAM Production assistance: Annika Pråhl

Production Coordinator: Kirsi Tikka

neugerriemschneider, Berlin

Commissioned by HAM/Helsinki Biennial 2021 in collaboration with Suomenlinna Prison