Of Pride and Shame
There is nothing hidden or unknown in Paavo Halonen’s works of art. Yet everything is unexpected. Cutting boards, birch bark backpacks, an old sleigh – the building materials are from the past onto which we have built the story of what Finnish means. Halonen’s works raise a dangerous question in this day and age: How much do we still have in common with our national past?
Surprising collages of objects are in the core of Halonen’s art. The objects that have been used in installations become less obvious when one takes a closer look. Unusual compositions form the most delicate entities and evoke stories that linger in the viewer’s mind for a long time to come.
Elias Lönnrot carrying a birch bark backpack, collecting poems for the national epic is a familiar image, but how many people have actually seen a birch bark backpack? Not to mention, ever carried one? The iconic artefacts of being Finnish have wondered off outside the realms of our everyday life. In the hands of Halonen, these objects from the past have gained a new future. The birch bark backpack has been given wings, and has changed into a new cluster of interpretation.
We are ashamed of being Finnish because people with whom we do not want to identify have claimed nationalism. We are proud of being Finnish without being able to tell what exactly we are proud of. Halonen’s works cross the rocky peninsula between these two emotions and sew pride and shame together in subtle and poetic installations. The exhibition allows the viewer to take our agrarian past and make it a part of the Finnish identity in a new way.
Soundscape for the exhibition by Aino Venna and Tuomas Klaavo
A publication Of Pride and Shame, featuring works of art and poems is published in connection with the exhibition. Poems by Sanna Karlström, works by Paavo Halonen, photos by Ulla Kokki. The Fount (part of the exhibition and the publication) has been realised in collaboration with Meeri Koutaniemi. The publication is available at Gallery Sculptor.