A visitors view on What Is To Be Done?

by: Mariliis Rebane, art history student

In the same way as life seems to have left Elimäenkatu 25 for the summer, Ex-lab gallery space has also been empty until Tuukka Tammisaari organized his Private Show last Satuday. Even though the text on the gallery window promises an exhibition, the doors have been locked for June and July. With a special permission we are allowed to enter but to our surprise only find an incorrect list with students/artists names and a question What is to be done? left in the air. The first impression may lead one to conclude that the students have been given all the resources one could dream of for conducting an exhibition according to their own rules, but instead they must have felt bewildered by the endless amount of opportunities and turned their backs to the gallery instead. It soon becomes clear that even though there is nothing happening at the gallery, it does not mean that the show has no content.

The exhibition blog should give an idea of what is happening while the artists are idle. One of the few post takes one to a 4h video that was filmed at the exhibition opening. It leads to a discussion between the artists and the curators. There are rumors that the students of the school are discontent with the overproduction that has swallowed the freedom of artistic expression. The gallery however exists on an international ground (as can be deduced from the name that is in English) and follows the rules set by the art world and the society in particular. As a result the discussion that sets out to muse on the issues around the gallery, takes on an impressive nature and becomes a contemplation around the frames that are set for the artist by the system.

The agenda of this exhibition has been to allow the students step outside the frames. However – the aim and the format seem to be in contradiction. While the students would like to boycott the system, their anarchism is formulated as a product of the very same system they are against. Just like one is no longer able to turn to the nature because it does not exist anymore, is it also impossible to formulate an artwork without being part the framework?

What is to be done next? Is fading into silence and no longer producing art the implied answer? The exhibition seems to propose that the alternative is in starting over instead. This time we are not talking about writing a new manifest that declares everything previous a false misconception and defines new guidelines for the future. We are talking about constant starting over. In the same manner as one school year ends and the next starts with a moment of gathering breath in between, the show that begins with an end and ends with a beginning  offers stillness that allows to contemplate around what can be renewed while still being in the system in order to constantly push it´s boundaries.

Even though the exhibition space is mainly closed, online technologies still allow visitors in. The conversation, that mostly deals with (re)defining the position of the artist, is particularly interesting to anyone who is questioning the frames that they find themselves conforming to.

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