Becoming an art aficionado, or even an artistic person, has never been a goal in my life. Since my early childhood, I was not inclined to artistry, despite the fact that my grandfather was a very talented artist with the ability to draw as good as Picasso. The one and only artistic memory I’ve ever had was of a drawing competition in kindergarten where I successfully brought home a certificate stating that I was one of the most enthusiastic participants. I have saved it and proudly take it with me to Russia, by the way.
After a long time of having little to do with art, I was eventually introduced to a new type of art; art that I’d never known existed. It was not classical, but contemporary, art.
My definition of art is as vague as mist and simple as the ABCs. For me, art is no more than a painting, statue, watercolor, or sketch, which is totally unacceptable for contemporary art lovers. I never knew that an installation of garbage, colorful fabric on the wall, or overused leaky roof, could be categorized as art and displayed in a museum. Maybe it’s because I live in a developing country where we don’t have enough time to think about art while our stomachs rumble in hunger.
My first contact with contemporary art occurred when I visited Finland via plane. As a modern country, Finland has undoubtedly become a home to some unbelievable museums featuring exquisite collections. Two museums that should be on an art lover’s ‘must see list’ are Kiasma and Ateneum.
Kiasma is dedicated to contemporary art. Meanwhile in Ateneum, not only will you be able to find jaw-dropping displays, but a handful of easy-to-understand classic artworks for amateurs. Kiasma is actually a part of the Finnish National Gallery. Located nearby Mannerheim Square, Kiasma’s architecture is considerably eye-catching and easily recognizable, dominated by glass that enables light to enter the building and create a cosy atmosphere inside, true to the intentions of the architect.
As a home for contemporary art, Kiasma offers something unusual for its audience. On the second floor we were guided directly to the exhibition of Pilvi Takala, a new generation artist from Finland that held an exhibition entitled “Second Shift” in January 2019. To be frankly, I was shocked that I enjoyed her kind of art, which consisted of video, screenshots of messages, and displays depicting work situations at the office. My main take of this exhibition, which one might conclude from the messages displayed on the wall, was to examine how we (humans) deal with implicit rules and unspoken boundaries, as well as how we express our consent, with or without words.
Third and fourth floor are dominated by various artists from different countries.
Amber Kebab (2016)
This piece features a large chunk of amber spun on a Kebab grill.
The artist was inspired after having vacationed on the beach in Poland where she saw a prevalence of Arabic culinary culture. Simply put, it’s about a cultural cross-pollination.
Ateneum is undoubtedly part of Finnish National Gallery. As opposed to Kiasma, where you have no choice but to attempt to comprehend contemporary art, Ateneum offers more variety. The exhibitions feature art that is classic, familiar, and easy to understand. Although the gallery is not as big as the Louvre in France, or Hermitage in Russia, Ateneum has a large variety of paintings to enjoy, primarily produced by Finnish artists.
The Helsinki City Museum is located right in front of the big cathedral and Senate House in Helsinki. If you aren’t looking for it, you might just pass by, because the museum is a small house on the corner, but it’s still worth to visit. The admission is free so it’s perfect for the penny-pincher like myself.
Judging from its name, you might (correctly) guess that it’s all about Helsinki. The museum shows some displays related to the foundation and history of Helsinki. On the upper level of the building, we found something else an exhibition with the theme of fear! I felt the fear as I heard the name itself. To ad to the fear, they asked us to sign some Terms and Condition before entering the rooms.
And what was the result?
The concept of fear varies depends on the person itself. According to the rooms we found, fear can be divided into categories that are claimed to be the natural fear of human: fear of the darkness, fear of the provocative sound (loud, unpleasant sound), fear of being center of attention (this is for me), fear of watching people who feel the fear (really hard to understand), fear of doing nothing (really me), and fear of finding nothing. At the end of the room, sticky notes are provided to write down what you are scared of, but to be honest, their concept of fear was just unbelievable and sometimes unacceptable.
Tips for visiting museum in Helsinki