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Helsinki Biennial 2023

Helsinki Biennial is an international art event that brings outstanding contemporary art to Vallisaari Island and locations around Helsinki.

The second edition was curated by Joasia Krysa and took place from 11 June to 17 September 2023. Helsinki Biennial 2023 comprised exhibitions, a discursive and performative public programme, film screenings, publications, and an online programme. It took place on Vallisaari Island, HAM Helsinki Art Museum and other venues and public places in the city.

HAM Helsinki Art Museum is responsible for producing Helsinki Biennial.

Curator 2023

Curator Joasia Krysa. Photo: Verna Kovanen

Joasia Krysa is a UK-based, Polish-born curator and scholar working at the intersection of contemporary art and technology. She is Professor of Exhibition Research at Liverpool John Moores University. Between 2012–2015 she was Artistic Director of Kunsthal Aarhus, Denmark. She was part of the curatorial team for Documenta 13 (2012), and co-curator of the 9th Liverpool Biennial (2016). Past projects have been presented at, amongst others, The Whitney Museum of American Art, ZKM Center for Art and Media, and Tate Modern. Her current research focuses on AI and curating.

New Directions May Emerge

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

New Directions May Emerge adopts its title from a quote by anthropologist Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing, who proposes learning from (the art of) “noticing”With close attention to other people, animals, plants, the 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 acts of noticing, sensing and sense-making. Moving from humans to non-humans and between varying scales – a spectrum spanning data as the smallest scale, through to islands and speculative new worlds denoting the largest – the biennial invites audiences to consider how recognising small or otherwise invisible details might prompt possibilities to act, to imagine differently, and reconcile the impact of human intervention, environmental and technological damage.

The biennial introduces three main conceptual threads: contamination, regeneration and agency. The Baltic Sea is one of the most contaminated waters in the world, subjected to waste from regimes of violence and unregulated industrialism. Yet, Helsinki Biennial proposes new layers of productive contamination as a cross-pollination between practices and ideas. Recognising that biennials have often been founded on principles of urban regeneration, in terms of tourism and the economy, it additionally proposes how exhibitions can be a force for healing and repair. Finally, the concept of agency explores how human life, the environment and technologies can evolve together to produce new and unforeseen results.

‘How might contamination be a force for positive change? How can we use biennials for the wider regeneration of things? How might agency extend beyond humans to other nonhuman entities and assemblages, including artificial intelligences? How might these threads be channelled into rethinking the ways that practices and future worlds might be conceived?’ – Joasia Krysa