Synthesis is a year-long process of testing the possibilities of remote collaboration, ways to more climatically conscious experimentation, mutual learning and joint creation in the field of media art, designed by the Helsinki Artists Association (HAA) and the WRO.
The project was launched on October 1st, 2020 at the Oodi Central Library in Helsinki with a exhibition and screening program from the WRO on Tour series. It will be exhibited in public as part of the Biennale WRO 2021 REVERSO and during the next presentations in Helsinki, scheduled for autumn 2021.
The initiator of such a cooperation is the director of HAA, Merja Briñón, who inscribed it into a project aimed at developing sustainable international activities of the Helsinki Artists’ Association in 2020-2022.
The actual space of cooperation is Paweł Janicki’s algorithmic structure. Synthesis, a patch written in MaxMSP, is a kind of engine that enables to combine movement, interaction and various sources of image and sound in the form of audiovisual installations or performances. Janicki gives this space to two Finnish artists – Anna Nykyri and Kaisu Koivisto, selected in an open call for applications organized by the HAA. Both artists use the video medium to create installations and screen-based works. Their work with coding in the framework of Synthesis offers the potential to expand their scope of tools for artistic production while critically analysing them, allowing the artists to explore the algorithmic lining of reality. At a later stage Nykyri and Koivisto will be joined by other artists, Synthesis will in time come closer to the WRO 2021 REVERSO.
Besides the issues that will arise from the artists’ activities, the overriding issue we want to look at, are the artistic and inter-institutional collaborations as such and its new models. We are looking for ways to get closer to sustainable production and presentation of art, practices more conscious of the available (desired?) and used resources. If and how can art respond to the postulate of sustainable, environmentally conscious life with zero carbon emissions? What effects can a post-pandemic regime of limited resources, inability to travel and direct encounters will have on the idea of
co-creation, co-authorship and cooperation? Can a model based on temporary alliances of artists and art institutions, on their remote cooperation across borders, mediated by video chat applications, bring new patterns for creating and experiencing art?
Synthesis / start:
curators: Agnieszka Kubicka-Dzieduszycka, Dominika Kluszczyk
production coordination: Elisa Paakkonen
Related cooperation projects:
Traces / Interactive Playground
WRO Art Center’s treveling exhibition
Suomenlinna Gallery, Helsinki
Oct 28 – Nov 21, 2020
artists: Paweł Janicki | Tomasz Mirt | Małgorzata Sikorska
curator: Małgorzata Sikorska
production coordination: Dominika Kluszczyk, Elisa Paakkonen, Małgorzata Sikorska
Synthesis / further on:
Workshop in Helsinki / introduction to MaxMSP
experiments, independent and collaborative work, documented ongoing online meetings, conversations, documentation and analysis of processes and events
The exhibition produced by the Helsinki Artists’ Association together with the WRO Center for Media Art Foundation. This collaboration is part of the HAA Europe project planned for 2020–2022. HAA Europe is funded by the City of Helsinki and the Arts Promotion Centre Finland. The WRO Center for Media Art Foundation is a public-benefit institution whose activities are supported by the City of Wrocław and the Ministry of Culture and National Heritage. The WRO Center for Media Art Foundation is one of the HAA’s European project partners.
Helsinki Artists’ Association (HAA)
A non-governmental organization since 1967, associating more than 800 artists from Helsinki who represent all disciplines of contemporary art. HAA promotes contemporary art through various educational, project-based and exhibition activities, as well as multidisciplinary cooperation. The main activity of the association is the organization of exhibitions and lending the works of art, international cooperation and courses and trainings in the field of visual arts. HAA is one of Finland’s most important contemporary artists’ associations, and in its activities it values glocality, creative independence, with an emphasis on sustainability, diversity, and aims to increase the accessibility of the visual arts.
Synthesis / backstage
Planning the project in the classic formula of connecting artists remaining in the scope of organizations from two European countries, which are just starting their cooperation, began in late spring 2019 with the then newly appointed director of HAA, Merja Briñón, with whom we share the valuable experience of working together at the Art Ii Biennale in 2018. We smoothly created a plan of study tours to Wrocław and Helsinki, curatorial queries, including visits tin the artist’s studios in the context of the Helsinki Biennale planned to take place in June 2020. Appropriate applications for funding have been written and submitted, both organizations have obtained and planned budgets for the implementation of the project. A strong accent of the outlined cooperation was the invitation to Helsinki for the exhibition Traces / Interactive Playground, which is also intended to be an opportunity for networking and testing the art mediation practices in direct relations with the audience and artists in Helsinki. Together with Dominika Kluszczyk, Małgorzata Sikorska, Merja Briñón and Elisa Paakkonen, we planned the next steps, based on short artistic residencies, the development and implementation of projects, the inspiration for which was to result from the encounters, conversations, getting to know each others’ works, and exploring new locations with methods of art using technical tools for creation. Fortunately, the first of the planned study visits took place at the beginning of March 2020, when Merja Briñón visited us in Wroclaw.
The reason why I describe the usually hidden, organizational and logistical backstage is obvious: the closing of borders and the freezing of public life due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The forced anihilation of social interactions has turned all plans upside down, revealing the impermanence of routine procedures produced by the administrative system proper for international artistic cooperation. Suddenly, the premisses heralding an end – the climate catastrophe, an economy based on exploitation and surveillance, polarization and disintegration of human ties, populism and the retreat from knowledge – materialized as a single thread of RNA, an inconspicuous piece of protein that stopped the obvious cycles and runs, forcing the mankind to reflect (at least for a while, as it soon turned out) on the validity of the adopted model of continuous development.
These new, objective conditions brought about an awareness of the inadequacy of the assumed formulas and the necessary revision of the adopted methods, making the work on the conceptualisation and planning of the project necessary to be undertaken anew. The question arose about the new base proper to anchor the preparation of a series of presentations and exhibitions without any leaven of living contacts with people, without surprise and admiration, without the clash of creative energies and insights. The acceptance of the lack opened new perspectives for remote cooperation, pointing out other ways for its realization and critical analysis.
The reformulation of unanswered questions about the goals, shifting the emphasis from effects into processes, their course and seemingly insignificant branches, the sharpening of attention to the self-importance of phenomena and events treated so far as side effects, and the resulting cognitive values, and finally the gesture of the artist, who made the structure of his work available for others, make Synthesis open the potential for practices whose realization and simultaneous observation becomes the method and leading theme of the project.