Helsinki Biennial to be held this summer

The inaugural Helsinki Biennial will be held this summer from 12 June to 26 September 2021 on Vallisaari island and in mainland Helsinki. It will be available to live audience if the pandemic allows it. All announced artists and artist groups, as well as one new arts collective, will take part in the biennial.

Mayor of Helsinki Jan Vapaavuori.said: “Implementing an international biennial with considerable special arrangements during a time like this takes a great effort from Helsinki. The commitment, given before the COVID-19 crisis, to make Helsinki a maritime centre of international art, major events, and unforgettable experiences has not diminished. On the contrary, we believe that the biennial will promote the renewal of Helsinki’s attraction and vitality and indicate that Helsinki is a city you can trust and a city worth investing in”.

Helsinki Biennial is an international contemporary art event organised every other year. The first Helsinki Biennial will be held on Vallisaari island in summer 2021. The biennial is a joint project for the City of Helsinki, and it is curated and produced by HAM Helsinki Art Museum. The biennial is a part of the Helsinki City Strategy 2017–2021, whose objectives include strengthening the city’s international appeal and making the most of its maritime characteristics.

“We want to provide our visitors a safe and inspiring exhibition experience”, says Maija Tanninen-Mattila, the director of the biennial and HAM Helsinki Art Museum. “I believe that in these challenging times, people long for art and cultural experiences even more than before. I hope that the biennial will bring city residents and all visitors hope, light, and joy.

Helsinki Biennial will be constructed and the artworks installed as planned during the spring, in accordance with the current COVID-19 restrictions. Approximately one third of the works to be placed on Vallisaari will be located outdoors along the trails, and the rest will be indoors in gunpowder cellars and old residential buildings. Some of the biennial’s works will be placed on the mainland in HAM and in different parts of Helsinki.

“The possibility of opening gradually is considered in the planning of the biennial”, says Head of Helsinki Biennial Jonna Hurskainen. “We hope that as many people as possible will be able to experience the uniqueness of the biennial and view interesting contemporary art in the beautiful Helsinki archipelago. However, we have paid special attention to digital content that will bring the biennial to audiences if visiting Vallisaari is not possible”.

Responsibility and ecological sustainability are Helsinki Biennial’s key values. From the beginning of the event’s planning, questions regarding the value of an art event today and how it can be implemented in accordance with sustainable development have been considered. Helsinki Biennial is committed to transparent environmental action now and in the future.

The Helsinki Biennial programme will be published in May. The programme has been created in cooperation with the city’s services, communities, and residents.


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