For 10 years now, the Art Ii Biennial (AIB) has been addressing current themes, participating in the public discussion through the methods of art and combining the cultural heritage of Ii with the contemporary art. A crucial part of the event is to facilitate interactions between the local community and international art professionals through communal activities. The northern landscape and humanity have been the essential topics of Art Ii Biennial over the years. The AIB’s outdoors site-specific art works are mostly located at the environmental art park and the village centre. Temporal, local and cultural conditions affect the production of these artworks. One of the main values of the event is ecological, economical, social and cultural sustainability.
The current AIB 2018: States of Matter edition is devoted to water as a fundamental element for all forms of life, a cultural interface, a transformable material, a natural archive. Thanks to cooperation with WRO Art Center, there will be media artworks that employ the concept of nature and are expanded by the technological dimension presented for the first time at the Biennial in Ii. We initiated the cooperation with the AIB in March 2018 with the presentation of the WRO on Tour #13 Tidal Wave video program. In the program of the AIB 2018 opening week between 4 and 10 June, we will showcase installations by Paweł Janicki, Jacek Zachodny and the WROcenter group, together with another WRO on Tour #20 Substance Shift screening program.
FULL PROGRAM OF THE EVENT: HERE
curator of the program of the WRO Art Center: Agnieszka Kubicka-Dzieduszycka
curators of the AIB18: Anastasia Patsey (The Museum of Noncomformist Art, St. Petersburg), Antti Tenetz (an artist, Arts Promotion Centre Finland), Merja Briñón (artistic director of the AIB18)
WHY II IS SO SPECIAL OR KINDA CURATORIAL TEXT
Ii is an extensive settlement spread among the forests of the Northern Ostrobothnia, located near the delta river mouth of the Iijoki River to the Gulf of Bothnia. It is the shortest name of the town in Finland (and one of the shortest in the world), and in the language of the indigenous Saami people, it simply means “an accommodation.” From the 14th century, Ii is a place of trade, and modest wooden houses in the oldest part of the village, on the shores of the Iijoki River, were built very likely in the place of old fishermen’s, hunters, lumberjacks, peat diggers and berry pickers huts.
Today, Ii is one of the most ecologically innovative municipalities in Finland. Over the last eight years, the consumption of oil in this nearly ten-thousand-strong community has been reduced by as much as 80%, and the emission of carbon dioxide has been halved in 2007-2015(!). The programs for increasing the share of renewable energy sources in the overall energy balance of the commune, developed and implemented together with the inhabitants, and transition to a waste-free economy are aimed at reaching the limits set by the EU as early as 2020, that is 30 years before the official deadline!
In Ii, there is, as we hear, everything you need to live: a big supermarket, a petrol station, a pizzeria and even a kebab bar, two night bars, a spacious modern library with a concert hall equipped with a piano, used also for meetings of the municipal council. The KulttuuriKauppila Art Centre is located outside the city centre, in the forest, on the Iijoki River, and on its website, we can read that its mission is “to improve the position of visual artists in northern Finland and to create international connections in the field of art […], to participate in creating local cultural policy on a practical level and to believe that creativity is a key to well-being on both the individual and collective level.”
KulttuuriKauppila produces art-education programs for schools and residents of Ii, and also runs a respected international residency program for artists. The program is partially subsidised by the commune, and artists coming to Ii from all over the world live and work for a reasonable fee in a one-story building of an old one-room school.
Since 2008, KulttuuriKauppila has also been organizing the Art Ii Biennial (AIB), which is a context for cooperation with WRO Art Center. AIB is (along with Turku Biennial and Rauma Biennale Balticum) one of three cyclical events presenting contemporary art in Finland in the biennial formula and the only one that is organised in the province of Northern Finland.
AIB focuses on participative practices that connect artists and residents in the shared creation and experience of art and topics arising from their specific location (northern nature, nature and ecology, Saami history and culture). The exhibition has a well-tempered scale and tempo – it usually lasts about 10 days and is attended by several artists. The works are created on site in a longer or shorter process (their production is often combined with residencies), creating a permanent exhibition of art in the forest and in unwooden parts of the town, i.e. the expanding local installation park. The current, fifth edition of AIB is, so far, the most extensive – the events preceding the June exhibition of works by 19 artists and the opening of the biennale have been taking place since March, including the WRO on Tour Tidal Wave screening program.
The AIB18 States of Matter is dedicated to water, defined as a fundamental element of life on earth and a transformable natural archive of mankind. The topic floated naturally. The clean energy used by the inhabitants of Ii comes from hydroelectric power plants, however, the status of local waters – seemingly inexhaustible – begins to slowly decrease. The inclusion of art in the implementation of the local sustainable development ecology plan, in the formula used by AIB, results in the emergence of new traps in the actual plan (and perhaps their fuller, multidimensional analysis) and updating the narrative and strategy of art itself.
Initially planned as a standard, single WRO on Tour presentation of video works, our presence at AIB has grown to a comprehensive program, including a premiere presentation of the new installations by Jacek Zachodny (The Drought), Paweł Janicki (Flux), another version of the Cascade installation by the WROcenter Group, and the Tidal Wave and Substance Shift video programs.
All works refer to water (or the lack of it) and real or imagined visions of the world going through a powerful shift, heading towards a new materiality, stretched between what is still natural and what is artificial and technical, but already included in the area of the new hybrid, post-nature ecosystem.
– Agnieszka Kubicka-Dzieduszycka