Z is for Zut Alors!

Z is for Zut Alors!

What goes on behind the scenes of creating an exhibition? There surely has been highs and lows, twists and turns, and also many Zut Alors -moments in this one year process…

On one rainy day in Paris, Marika Maijala draw a picture of a stylish little wolf with a broken umbrella. It is based on actual event and I think that I’m not the only one who can identify oneself with the wolf, because everyone has had trouble with umbrellas breaking. Under the picture there’s a text that says Zut Alors! (damn!)

To be honest, this exhibition process has included quite many Zut Alors moments and several alternative plan B´s. Mostly because it’s been a side project while working a full time job, which means that I have put several hours a week on it on nights and weekends after my normal day job. I feel overwhelmingly grateful to both Marika and Maria, because they have trusted me to present their work in my own, obstinate way, which often means saying no to the second best options, even it would make things easier.

In the beginning, I was feeling quite confident about the exhibition. The artist names were great, and I strongly believed in the concept. I did not give many thoughts for the possibility of not getting some funding for the project. But that’s exactly what happened, and it led me to a totally new position, asking myself is it possible to organize a good art exhibition with a minimal budget, or no budget at all.

Marika Maijala: The wolf is thinking, 2019. Not on view.

I had to postpone the opening from spring to late summer. I was lucky to know the artists in advance and much to my relief, they were really flexible and understanding. But in the summer, even more limitations and requirements started taking over my work. By the beginning of August, the month when the exhibition was supposed to be opened, most of the original elements of the concept were just impossible to accomplish.

Eventually, I had to cancel the original opening date due to the artwork shipping problems (the works arrived to Finland several weeks later than expected). I knew that to be able to make the project still to make sense to me, I had to flip the negativity around and find a constructive response to the situation. I also wanted to be true to the strategy I had chosen. “Zut Alors!” I said to myself and decided to postpone the exhibition to the future, for the second time.


Marika Maijala: Rien Marche Pas Comme Il Veut (Nothing works as he wants), 2019. Not on view.


I was originally going to organize the exhibition in a bookshop, but also the venue was changed during the process. After finally receiving the artwork I tried to reschedule the exhibition with the bookshop, but because of both parties’ busy calendars, it was impossible. (“Zut Alors!”, again.) The bookshop had however, a big impact on my line of thought and I am grateful for their kind support in the beginning.

Looking back at these challenges now, I feel like I have learned from them. The obstacles don’t have to stop you. Here are a few tips to consider when dealing with challenges on your project:

  • Don’t set yourself impossible deadlines.
  • Try a new perspective.
  • Don’t be afraid to change direction.
  • Keep your options open.
  • Ask for help when you need it.
  • Accept that you will face challenges along the way.

Sometimes, best things come out of misery. Marika decided to use her frustration with broken umbrella as an inspiration for her art. I think that illustration can come out of anything, but illustration that comes out of misery is a special kind, and a special kind of person rises above the darkness in her life through humor.

Photo: Marika Maijala, late October 2019