We are continuing our production and mentoring programme Resonance, bringing together earlier career artists with their more experienced peers to develop and produce new works within a residency setting. This year we invited ten artists living and working in Finland and Oman, including two mentors – Elina Brotherus and Maija Blåfield – to participate in the programme of production and exchange, culminating in a residency at the Saari Residence, hosted by the Kone Foundation, in Finland.
Elina Brotherus (Finland), Hertta Kiiski (Finland), Kawthar Al Harthi (Oman), Khadija Al Maamari (Oman), Lada Suomenrinne (Sápmi), Maija Blåfield (Finland), Paola Fernanda GuzmánFigueroa (Colombia, Finland), Rosaliina Paavilainen (Finland), Ruqaiya Mazar (Baluchistan, Oman), Safa Baluchi (Baluchistan, Oman)
The artists worked with external prompts to make a new work or a ‘sketch’ for a new work each day during their time at the Saari Residency. The prompts were generated through a game of darts with three boards and a set of words assigned to the scores on each of them. These chance-determined words defined the parameters for each assignment across three categories: form or theme, place or stage, time or dimension. For some of the artists, the prompts led to the creation of complete pieces, while for others they were an opportunity to experiment and play with new ways of working.
The artists came from very different backgrounds, cultures and landscapes, yet there were ideas and themes shared between them. Questions around identity resonate across many of works developed during the programme. Perhaps the quiet rural landscape of south-western Finland during the summer when the sun sets only briefly and when darkness never falls invited the exploration of one’s place within the structures defining parameters of belonging or exclusion, openness or constraint, blending in or standing out, complying or rejecting, staying or going. Or perhaps while selecting the artists to join the programme we unwittingly have brought together a group that shares concerns around the relationship of humans and their surroundings – land, climate, culture, proximity and distance – and its past, its present and its future.
There is playfulness, laughter, longing, grief, fear and trauma in these works. There is performance, roleplay, self-portraiture, collage. Many of the artists used their bodies, with their experiences, their memories, their wounds and their hopes, to make works that open up a slit in their skin to shine a light from within on what it takes to move through the world in those bodies. There is poetry and prose; there is honesty and conceit; there is stillness and movement; there is light and darkness. Together the pieces developed and/or produced at Resonance:Finland 2023form a rich and textured body of works across photography, film, performance, and painting.
1Elina Brotherus, Beuys with Dead Wagtail 2, 2023, colour photograph
Elina Brotherus works in photography and moving image. Her work has been alternating between autobiographical and art-historical approaches. Photographs dealing with the human figure and the landscape, the relation of the artist and the model, gave way to images on subjective experiences in her recent bodies of work Annonciation and Carpe Fucking Diem. In her current work she is revisiting Fluxus event scores and other written instructions for performance-oriented art of the 1950s-70s. Another ongoing interest is photographing in iconic houses by architects like Alvar Aalto, Hundertwasser and Michel Polak. Brotherus takes roles of various imagined characters, thus bringing a tranquil human presence to the spaces. Elina has been exhibiting widely since 1997 and her work is represented in major public collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, MAXXI, Rome, Fondacion ARCO, Madrid, Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, and Museum Folkwang, Essen, to name a few.
Some of the works Elina produced during the programme form part the exhibition upcoming at Museum Schloss Moyland.
1Hertta Kiiski, June, 2023, colour photograph
Hertta Kiiski’s works dream of a new affinity between the human and the inhuman, the organic and the inorganic, transforming existing hierarchies. Her photographs, videos, textiles and installations exist in a framework of youth and love with aspects of the magical, the mythical and the esoteric. Like youth itself, Kiiski’s work inhabits a precarious state between daydream and unrest. While she weaves fabulous realities, much of her work is created in the domestic sphere, in collaboration with her dogs and daughters.
Hertta Kiiski works and lives in Turku, Finland. She earned an MFA from the Academy of Fine Arts (2015) and a BA in Photography from the Turku Arts Academy (2012). Her work has been presented in galleries and museums internationally, most recently at NOON Projects in Los Angeles and in Turku Art Museum in Finland. Her third book Otherworld will be published by Kehrer Verlag (Germany) in September 2023.
1Kawthar Al Harthi, Witnesses to Time 1, 2023, ink and thread on paper
Kawthar Al Harthi is a Muscat-based visual artist and educator. Her work draws of everyday experiences, daydreams and memories, and combines painting and drawing with photographs, notes and documents in collages and mixed media installations. Recent works address the changes in social structures and ways of living in Oman in recent decades marked by the migration of the population from villages to the cities, leaving traditional houses behind. Kawthar is a graduate of Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat, Oman. Her work has been exhibited in group exhibitions in Oman and Dubai, as well as in Paris, Budapest and Helsinki.
1Khadija Al Maamari, Untitled, 2023, black & white photograph
Khadija Al Maamari is a visual artist based in Suhar, Oman. She works across photography, video, painting and installation. In her practice, she weaves experiences from her own life, dreams – and nightmares – and cultural narratives. Her recent body of works in photography explored the symbolic role of fish within the Gulf art and culture. Currently, she is working on a series that looks at the idea of the artist as an element of their surroundings, and how they affect each other. Al Maamari graduated with BA and MA in Fine Art from Sultan Qaboos University, Muscat , Oman. She participated in many exhibitions in Oman, including at Stal Gallery in Muscat.
1Lada Suomenrinne, Untitled, 2023, black & white photograph
Lada Suomenrinne was born in northern Russia but, having been adopted by their stepfather into his Sámi family, they have lived most of their life in the northernmost point of Finland, Sápmi. Belonging and body-land trauma form the roots of their artistic practice. Suomenrinne uses photography to present possible ways to collaborate with the Earth. Searching for the ways to be in dialogue with visible and invisible living beings in landscape underpin their work. Suomenrinne explores the relationship with the Sáminess, which they inherited through adoption. They are curious about the borderland, where there are invisible Sámi lakes, through which they explore the traditions of the Sámi culture. They engage in a dialogue with nature, with whom they seek a safe place as an indigenous person at the end of the world.
1Maija Blåfield, Scenic View, 2023, film still from existing work
Maija Blåfield is a multidisciplinary contemporary artist and film director based in Helsinki, Finland. Her cinematic works navigate the grounds between experimental film and documentary film. In addition, Blåfield also works with photography and writing, among other media. Blåfield’s works typically address the ambiguity of reality, experiencing our everyday life differently, and the human relationship with the environment. Her works have been presented in Finland and internationally, in art museums and galleries, as well as at film festivals and on television. Blåfield was awarded the Finnish state award for media art in 2014 and was nominated for the prestigious Ars Fennica award in 2017.
1Paola Fernanda Guzmán Figueroa , La pescadora de imágenes (The Fisherwoman of Images), 2023, work in progress film still
Paola Fernanda Guzmán Figueroa is a Colombian/Finnish visual artist and filmmaker. She has a BA and MA degree from The University of the Arts Helsinki and a BA in Visual Arts from Universidad Javeriana, Bogotá, Colombia. Her work draws on the narratives and the lived realities of her family members and the geographical distance among them, and reflects and raises issues related to mobility, family relationships, and aging. Paola’s art dissolves frontiers and connects the past with the present by evoking situations, stories, and bodies that are placed in constant motion and in dialogue with each other.
Her work has been exhibited in numerous venues and has been documented in different media. Time Travel was showcased at CICA Museum, South Korea (2022), performed at El Retiro Park, Madrid (2020), and Governors Island, New York City (2023). Mommy say something to the camera, mom! has been showcased at Cinemassí Latin-American Film Festival in Helsinki (2022) and will be part of Doclisboa International Film Festival in October 2023. She has recently participated in residencies at Saari Residence, Finland, supported by The Wapping Project and the Kone Foundation, and Residency Unlimited, New York, supported by The Finnish Cultural institute.
1Rosaliina Paavilainen, The Anatomy of Desire, 2023, film still
Rosaliina Paavilainen is a visual artist and filmmaker with a primary focus on documentary and experimental cinema. In her works, she has addressed challenging family ties, addiction, infidelity, and the fear of death. Paavilainen often contemplates human minds, emotions, and actions, critically examining them. Paavilainen graduated in 2022 with a master ’s degree in visual arts from the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of the Arts Helsinki. Her moving image works have been featured in exhibitions and film festivals in recent years: Docpoint , Helsinki, Finland (2021), Mänttä Art Weeks, Mänttä, Finland (2021), VAFT, Turku, Finland (2020), reGeneration4, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Switzerland (2020), and Young Artists 2019, Taidehalli, Helsinki, Finland (2019).
The Anatomy of Desire is currently on show at the Galleria Huuto in Helsinki.
1Ruqaiya Mazar, Disguise, Air, Light: Scarf (working title), 2023, performance to camera
Ruqaiya Mazar is a multidisciplinary Omani artist. She is best known for her work in illustration, photography and video, which examines the relationship between herself and the place she belongs to. Through her artworks, she explores the tension between her individual expression and existence within the broader context of her surroundings. Born in 1991 in Muscat , she received a BA in Digital Design from Nizwa College in 2015. Following her graduation, she was shortlisted for the Young Emerging Artist Prize (YEAP) at Stal Gallery, Muscat , where she exhibited her first works that dealt with questions of striving for personal freedom.
In 2019, Ruqaiya was commissioned by The Wapping Project , London, to produce a new body of work for the exhibition Resonance. In 2022, she co-curated the Young Emerging Artist Prize (YEAP) at Stal Gallery. In 2023, she participated in a production residency at Saari Residence, Mynämäki, Finland, supported by The Wapping Project , UK, and the Kone Foundation, Finland. Her works have been shown at Stal Gallery, Oman; R House, Saudi Arabia; Al Markhiya Gallery, Qatar; and Greec. In addition to her artistic practice, Ruqaiya works as an art director.
Safa Baluchi is an interdisciplinary artist based between Muscat , Hamburg, and Riyadh. Baluchi’s work is inspired by personal experiences and encompasses performance, fashion, video, photography and installation. She explores questions around identity, the relationship between self and surroundings, and human interactions and emotions. Her ethnic Baloch background, exposure to mixed cultures, and the digital world have consistently driven her to question and evolve her artistic expression. Baluchi creates site-specific narratives through performative embodiment and imaginative world-building, bringing them to life using textiles, sound, and movement. Her background in digital and spatial design adds a unique edge to her work, which utilises both natural resources and upcycled materials.
Baluchi has exhibited regionally and internationally – in Muscat , Sharjah, Riyadh, Turku, and Düsseldorf. She has also participated in art residencies at the Saari Residence, Finand; the Berlin Art Institute, Germany; the Maraya Centre, Sharjah, UAE; and the INTERMIX Residency, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Recently, she was awarded the MISK Art Grant from the Misk Foundation in Riyadh. The grant will support the production of a new work for their collection.