← Back to blog

Epilogue: Claws and Connections – All the World’s Senses

25 Jan – 25 Feb 2024, artistic research exhibition including an event week. Venue: Kuva/Tila gallery, foyer and second floor Mylly tori spaces at the Academy of Fine Arts at the University of the Arts Helsinki

About two and a half months ago the Claws and Connections exhibition with works from 34 artist-researchers/groups ended. What did we take with us from the event? How did the participating artist-researchers relate to our attempt as curators to bring together an abundant parade of artistic research that is happening right now? Where did the processes involved in exhibiting artistic research projects lead to? The following feedback summary is based on answers to a questionnaire – not of exhibition visitors – but instead it reflects the participating artist-researchers’ thoughts on exhibiting and discussing their research in a group exhibition. The questionnaire includes answers from 13 participants. The idea of this summary is to revisit the places, ways of working and thoughts from the time of the exhibition and to make room for things that were and where not formulated during Claws and Connection – All the World’s Senses.

Here is the outcome of the questionnaire in short:

The exhibition had a positive impact on most of the participating artist-researchers and their research projects. The social engagement initiated through the works was the most inspiring thing about the event. Meetings with all the participants before the exhibition was a positive thing that contributed to a good atmosphere during the evolving project.

The booklet/catalogue was professionally and elegantly realised, yet playful. It had enough information but was kept short. It worked as additional information. Participants themselves turned to it again and again. The planning of the booklet should have started much earlier, from the beginning of the project.

During the building of the exhibition, many of the participants felt supported, there was no rush, it was even fun! Some felt it was stressful and it was hard work. Some negotiations between the participants did not go so smoothly.

The participants appreciated the process like and open-minded approach to what exhibition could mean. It touched upon the core of the question what it means to display objects that are part of larger processes. Many visited the exhibition several times, each time a new narrative or link was opened from the whole that combined the works. Someone started to write on the thesis in the own exhibition space. Another participant noticed one new thing even on the day of the demolition.

Social engagements through the works were described by many participants as the best part of the exhibition event. They opened an opportunity for researchers to discuss about – perhaps surprising – shared strands or themes in their respective practices. There was a rich programme drawn up for a diverse public engagement that met also pedagogical purposes. The participants hope for these conversations to continue after the exhibition came to an end.

Surprisingly, the large number of exhibiting artist-researchers was only for a few a problem. Some were of the opinion that the exhibition event even worked just the way it did now because it had so many voices involved. Many unexpected connections emerged from that.

The use of other spaces that the main gallery space was a problem for some of the participants because the audience might not find those other spaces or not perceive them as part of the exhibition at all. Others where happy about challenging locations, for example exhibiting a work in the middle of the noisy-high-traffic lobby of the Mylly building. This turned out to be excellent location from the perspective of social engagement. The conversations generated by these off-places were not planed in advance and they sparked one participating artist researcher to think about a whole new approach to future exhibitions and the works on display.

The main exhibition venue was Kuva/Tila gallery, which tends to swallow up artworks rather easily because of its size, was pushed in new and innovative ways in terms of scale with large murals, projections and interactive sculptures, for instance and the innovative solutions for curating so many diverse works and activities including sound, workshops, performances, reading sessions etc.

For some of the participants the exhibition worked as a kick-off for their research, others appreciated the feedback sessions, others pointed out the possibility to promoting their profile in a research-oriented direction. Conversations with the visitors gave new ideas for future research. The call for works for this exhibition evoked ideas, that can’t be implemented in a studio. Participants felt that they learned from colleagues and from their works and for many it was a valuable opportunity to try out things spatially and materially.

The curator team was described as professional and friendly, encouraging and attend, they were available when needed. More clear instructions about the material budget would help the participants planning their works. The pr-group could be more effective in getting more audience from outside of the Academy / University. The technical assistance worked well. It was professional and efficient. The technicians where helpful but busy. They put great effort into a good installation of the works.

Claws and Connections – All the World’s Senses managed to build various connections between participant artist and beyond. All questionnaire participants would participate again in a Claws and Connections exhibition. They feel artistic research exhibitions are needed.  The organizing of artistic research dissemination – for example in form of exhibitions and artistic research events – is one core issue of the University of the Arts Helsinki. Artistic research exhibitions should be continued and organized in regular intervals.

Asked about the difference between a group exhibition and this artistic research exhibition Claws and Connection event was in general receipted as quite different mentally, it had a more accepting atmosphere.

For the curatorial team of Claws and Connections 2024: Denise Ziegler, Maiju Loukola, Haidi Motola, Mika Elo

Written by: Denise Ziegler

three views from the exhibition showing various installations, a discussion event and a collective mural.
From left to wright: Miklos Gáal: Subversion unexplained (Separate realms at the same spot); Tuula Närhinen: Autografi di Roma – Tactile Impressions of Rome; Katja Tukiainen: The Shelter;  A part of Hanna Vahvaselkä’s installation Aspens (wounds). Fumbling thoughts about and within the landscape and Heidi Hänninen & KAS! -collective: Roots of Art: Underground collective wall painting mural painting.

Kynsiä ja kytköksiä – kaikki maailman aistittava / Claws and Connections – All the World’s Senses catalogue:


KuvA research activities

This blog highlights the activities of the research unit and doctoral programme at the Academy of Fine Arts Helsinki | Tämä blogi esittelee Kuvataideakatemian tutkimusyksikön ja tohtorikoulutusohjelman tapahtumia ja toimintaa | I den här bloggen presenteras verksamheten och evenemangen vid Bildkonstsakademins forskningsenhet och doktorandprogram

Latest posts

Follow blog