I is for Illustration Exhibition

I is for Illustration Exhibition

Is the gallery the best place for art media which has already been published elsewhere? The idea of doing this exhibition started from my need to test and find out, develop and share.

How to curate illustration anyway? That has been my main question since I started to work for The Finnish Illustration Association 2,5 years ago. My mind is always full of thoughts and questions, like: “How does context affect content?” and “What are the alternatives?” During the past five years, curating has become a trendy word among aesthetically oriented people, and it’s been used anytime they pick something and want to sound like it’s more than just picking something. Radio playlists are curated and wardrobes are curated.

What does it mean for the illustration? Does the process of selection and arrangement made by an outsider add any value? I would say it does. The artists often bear full responsibility for the selection and hanging of the exhibition. Ever more art shows are being curated by illustrators themselves. “It may sometimes be difficult to view your own work objectively and find new perspectives on it on your own.” Due to this, illustrator Emmi Jormalainen, among others, finds it great if an illustrator receives help from outsiders to select, set up and advertise an exhibition. (Pekkinen 2018)

With most illustration exhibitions, there really isn’t much public information out there. In order to expand my scope in the promotion of illustration art and the development of its exhibition practices, I wanted to try something more besides traditional gallery exhibition.  Alternative practices are the order of the day. Contemporary artists and audiences are increasingly breaking away from the plain wall. Many now exhibit art not in a gallery, but in a cargo container, a hair salon or a camping trailer. At least those living in the capital region who have become numb to the myriad of exhibitions available, rejoice at any new concepts: the more imaginative, the better.

Some concepts that I’ve recently found especially fresh thinking beyond borders are the home exhibitions Hetki 2018Sensual Closeness 2019 curated by Antonia Hamberg, and A Cave for Play, a group show organized in an underground playland by Sakari Tervo 2018. These two concepts are total opposites. Where Hamberg invites people into her home to see art, Tervo’s group show was accessible to audience only via PDF publication (linked above).  I think Hamberg’s return to the domestic setting is fitting, given that the art gallery was born in the home. Tervo, for his part, has succeeded to find an interesting point of view for the question of art in isolation.


Images above from Marika Maijala’s sketchbooks. Studies on people in real and fictional exhibitions. Not on view.

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