Curatorial Collective Perpetuum Mobile (PM) Stage an Exhibition in Helsinki Platforming “Artists at Risk”
A new exhibition curated by Perpetuum Mobile (Ivor Stodolosky and Marita Muukkonen) showcases a bevy of politically charged art, prompting renewed speculation about art’s social responsibility to address urgent issues like migration, memory-politics, fake-news and post-truth. The exhibition brings together over a dozen artists operating under a central premise: those who are at risk, be they Afro-indigenous Brazilians, Iraqis or Kurds from across ancient Mesopotamia, secular artists under religious regimes, or Europeans of Romani descent.
“The exhibition brings together over a dozen artists operating under a central premise: those who are at risk, be they Afro-indigenous Brazilians, Iraqis or Kurds from across ancient Mesopotamia, secular artists under religious regimes, or Europeans of Romani descent”
The Helsinki edition of the Artists at Risk (AR) Pavilion, a project that has included past editions in Berlin, Athens, Madrid and Istanbul, brings together a number of eye-witness account of artists and musicians who have experienced horrible atrocities in their home countries, but who have, in spite of such circumstances, courageously continued to pursue a path in the arts.
On opening night, a banging hip-hop performance took place headlined by Grammo Suspect, a well-known LGBTQ-activist and hip-hop musician from Kenya. Rocking the mic, Grammo Suspect sang to the audience about the trials and tribulations of being a lesbian woman in Kenya, rapping over thumping drum beats: “this is my identity, not a choice, change your mentality.” Alongside Grammo Suspect, the opening night of the exhibition saw a number of artists from all over the world in attendance, including Saddam Jumaily and his wife Kholod Hawash, two in-credible visual artists from Iraq. Babi Badalov, an artist originally from Azerbaijan but now living in Paris; the Kurdish curator and video artist Barış Seyitvan; Spartak Khachanov, a Ukrainian anti-war visual artist; and Issa Touma, the iconic Syrian photographer known for his work 9 Days from My Window in Aleppo, which won the European Film Award for Best Short Film in 2017.
Entering the exhibition one is immediately confronted with Touma’s large-scale photographs of bombed out streets in his home city Aleppo. In depicting such intimate portraits of the Syrian Civil War, Touma’s work tells of the broader challenges many artists from regions of conflict face.
This type of work speaks to the broader program which Artists at Risk (AR), in their various organisational and awareness creative capacities, decide to platform. By assessing the world in terms of these harsh and disparaging political realities, the exhibition analyzes the complex trajectories of emergencies that put artists at risk in the first place. In doing so, we are reminded that political injustices do not occur in a vacuum, that they are often clustered. Indeed, as the American civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. once famously proclaimed, “injustice any-where is a threat to justice everywhere.”
“injustice any-where is a threat to justice everywhere”
The Artists at Risk (AR) Pavilion – Mass Memory Machines curated by Perpetuum Mobile (PM) continues through to December 15 at Galleria Rankka – Eerikinkatu 36, 00180 Helsinki
Feature Caption: Saddam Jumaily F16, oil on canvas, photo by Dorian Batycka