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Open Up and Shape Helsinki – Announcements

Organized by PUBLIC and Kohta, Open Up and Shape Helsinki Symposium is agreed over three days to celebrate the international launch of the new SHAPE online platform. The symposium is structured around three intersecting topics:

Infrastructures of power, and (re-)distribution. Class, money and access. Institutional reimagining and future publics.

Speakers will include Cynthia Cruz, Carolina Rito and Bassam El Baroni, among others. The full program will be announced during May 2022.

The symposium mobilizes a public coming together around SHAPE (Spaces, Helsinki, Art, Projects, Events) platform, initiated in 2021 by PUBLICS and Kohta. SHAPE is a new and essential resource for Helsinki’s contemporary art landscape, a mapping of art spaces and public events across the city. SHAPE is a useful tool for navigating the diversity of Helsinki art scenes and to find out what’s happening, where and when. Users and visitors can browse upcoming activities as well as find out more about their initiating organisations. SHAPE is organized around eight main categories of activity: Books, Events, Exhibitions, Festivals, Initiatives, Museums, Supports, and Workspaces. SHAPE supports more than 100 organizations locally, connecting them to each other and to their audiences.

How do local organizations respond to the urgencies of our current moment? In planning Open Up and Shape Helsinki Symposium, we keep in mind our many immediate and common challenges. How can we open up resources, including funding and the institutions providing it? How can we make such resources more transparent and productive?

We also acknowledge that art organizations with short-term funding are too often in a reactive mode. How can we build strategies for redistributing and decentralizing power for the foreseeable future? Open Up and Shape Helsinki Symposium begins by asking how equity, labor, money and structures of power are configured globally, and connects these issues to the local context in Helsinki.

In addition to the position papers and discussions, a significant part of each day is dedicated to the act of listening to each other’s urgencies in the form of Rants & Raves. We have invited every organization listed on the SHAPE platform to spill it all out, to share frustration, fears, praises, short-term obstacles and long-term concerns, in a Rant & Rave which will be delivered along with others, during our three -days symposium. The duration of each Rant & Rave is four minutes and thirty-three seconds. 4′33″ is a composition by experimental composer John Cage, which, despite being commonly perceived as silence, consists of the sounds of the environment that the listeners hear.

The symposium program is planned in the framework of the four-year open-up project, for which PUBLIC is a partner. Frame Contemporary Art Finland joins the collaboration by co-hosting one session in the context of Rehearsing Hospitalities public program.

Bassam El Baroni is the author of various essays on artists, art and curating, and editor of Between the Material and the Possible: Infrastructural Re-Examination and Speculation in Art (Sternberg Press and Edith Russ Haus, 2022) and co-editor, together with Ida Soulard and Abinadi Meza, of Manual for a Future Desert (Mousse Publishing, 2021).

Cynthia Cruz is the author of numerous critically acclaimed poetry volumes and the recent agenda setting books The Melancholia of Class: A Manifesto for the Working Class(repeater books, 2021) and Disquieting: Essays on Silence (Book*hug Press, 2019), Cruz is currently at work on a book exploring negative freedom and the working class.

Carolina Rito is the co-editor of Institution as Praxis – New Curatorial Directions for Collaborative Research (Sternberg, 2020), Architectures of Education (e-flux Architecture, 2020), and MANUFACTURING PUBLIC: the dissemination of culture in the post-truth era (Open Humanities Press, forthcoming).

PUBLIC is a curatorial and commissioning agency with a dedicated research library and event space in Helsinki, Finland. Under the artistic direction of curator Paul O’Neil, with program manager and curator Elisa SuvantoPUBLICS explores a “work together” institutional model with multiple overlapping objectives, thematic strands and collaborations.

Kohta is an artist-initiated kunsthalle for Helsinki with the mission to feature artistic thinking in its many forms and showcase artists from different generations and media. The programme, curated by its director Anders Kreugerbrings together contemporary artists from Finland and the rest of the world in solo and group exhibitions.

Frame Contemporary Art Finland is an advocate for Finnish contemporary art. Frame supports international initiatives, facilitates professional partnerships, and encourages critical development of the field through grants, visitor program and curator residencies, seminars and talks, exhibition collaborations and network platforms. Frame is the commissioner of the Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Biennale.

open-up is a four-year cultural project (2020–23) co-funded by the Creative Europe programme, promoting underrepresented artists and cultural workers. Open Up is a partnership between seven distinct organizations from seven cities across Europe.

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