Monday, May 16, 2011

Äkkigalleria 9 - New Finnish Romantic Nationalism

During their 2011 spring campaign, the extreme rightwing political party “Perussuomalaiset” (The True Finns) made some thought provoking statements about the inutility of Postmodernist and experimental “artsy” art. Although these statements were very critical of the independent, creative process, they did praise the Romantic Nationalism of the early 20th century, in which art was valued for its propaganda, idealism and the solidification of a proud, Finnish national identity. The political statements expressed a desire to cut financial aid to all postmodernist art and to support only creations which represent and glorify Finnish culture from its very essence.

Finnish art for Finns by Finns

At the turn of the 20th century, the Romantic Nationalism movement sent artists to the outskirts of the cities to roam the countryside in search of their Finnish roots and a foundation for the future.

The results of their research helped Finland construct a national identity.

Artists transformed the poor peasant life and rugged backcountry into a story of Finnish strength and persistence in the midst of an arduous, yet beautiful landscape.

Since then, the idea of Finnish identity has diffused from these initial romantic notions into millions of different opinions.

This ninth Äkkigalleria exhibition, shows work about Finland in the 21st century by Finnish artists about Finnish identity. What do contemporary Finnish artists see, experience, and above all, how do they represent Finland and depict Finnish identity.

And perhaps, these visions of Finnish identity might just spark an artsy flame of the Postmodernist spirit.

The exhibition’s artists are Elina Försti, Mikko Ijäs, Friidu Kahjo, Risto Kajo, Willie Lahti, Kaarina Kuusisto-Lukkari, Sami Lukkarinen, Jyrki Markkanen and Matti Waskilampi.

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