In 2020 the island of Vallisaari off the shore of Helsinki, a short ferry ride from the Finnish capital, will play host to the very 1st edition of the new Helsinki Biennial. The biennial will be overseen by Helsinki Art Museum director, Maija Tanninen-Mattila and curated by the museum’s head curators Pirkko Siitari and Taru Tappola.
In a release, the director Tanninen-Mattila said, “Helsinki is an open, welcoming city, which the Helsinki Biennial will mirror. We hope that this unique, informal setting, will be a fruitful source of inspiration, bringing international art to locals and creating more visibility for the art produced in Finland today.”
According to the Helsinki Mayor Jan Vapaavuori, the biennial will illustrate the unique characteristic of Helsinki and the surrounding archipelago. It will also highlight commitment to art, architecture, design and urban culture in all its forms. The biennial is set to open up new worlds to anyone who visits Helsinki.
It is said by the event organizers that the inaugural biennial will foster a “sustainable approach to exhibition making,” while ensuring that everything in display embodies Helsinki’s ambitious cultural vision.” Helsinki is committed to further developing the city’s art scene both on grass roots and institutional level.
The biennial which will be free and open to all will be built around new site-specific installations on the island commissioned by Helsinki Art Museum and created by artists both local and international. It will also have a presence on the mainland and in the museum itself. The goal is to communicate the diverse and dynamic nature of the contemporary Finnish art scene and engender links and collaborations with the wider global artistic landscape.
For artists, the island will provide a lot of historical and environmental context to work with. The land is a former Finnish military outpost that was once used as the Russian Base in the Finnish War of 1808-1809. Today, it is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the region, home to a number of rare plants and animals; its ecosystem is described as “very fragile.” The island is a short 15 minute ferry ride and was opened to the public in 2016.
The curatorial concept for Helsinki 2020 will be announced in autumn 2019. Further details of who will actually be showing their work in the Biennial will be released to the press later this year.