Renowned Finnish artists and rising talents: a broad cultural programme supporting the presidency of the Council of the EU

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“Nail2″ © Antti Laitinen 2019

During Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU starting at the beginning of July, Brussels will be featuring some of the top names in Finnish contemporary art and culture, as well as rising new talents. The broad cultural programme supports the priority themes of the EU presidency period. The Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux in Brussels is closely involved in carrying out the programme. 

Each year, the European Space for Sculpture association invites one artist to Brussels from the country holding the EU presidency at the time. From the beginning of July, visual artist Antti Laitinen’s works that often address the relationship between humans and nature will be on display in the Tournay-Solvay park. The Fused With Nature exhibition will include, among other things, an environmental artwork that residents can take part in: a suit of armour made from galvanised steel nails will be nailed around a tree fallen in a storm. The exhibition at Tournay-Solvay park is open from 4.7.–29.9. In addition, Laitinen’s photo and video works will be on display in the renowned La Patinoire Royale/Valérie Bach gallery in Brussels from 6.–27.7.  

The Spazio Nobile gallery in Brussels will be displaying textile and graphic artist Kustaa Saksi’s large, colourful tapestries in the summer. The exhibition is part of the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux RE/defining Finnish Contemporary Art & Design project. Saksi’s art will also be on display at the European Council and EU Council’s headquarters in the Europa building, which will feature an impressive 26-metre textile work of art.

During the Brussels Gallery Weekend (5.–8.9.2019), the Spazio Nobile gallery will host a private exhibition by designer Laura Laine, which will feature a series of Laine’s new glass sculptures. At the end of September, a group exhibition of 18 Finnish craft artists will be opened in the same gallery and will be on display until the end of 2019. The exhibition will feature internationally renowned artists (including Harri Koskinen and Päivi Rintaniemi) as well as rising talents (including Tero Kuitunen, Veera Kulju, Teemu Salonen and Man Yau).

As a whole, the exhibitions highlight a wide range of materials for which Finnish craft artists and designers are known around the world. The works and choice of materials emphasise the fragility of the environment in the midst of climate change. They also remind us how important it is to preserve nature through sustainable choices. 

In October, the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts will celebrate Finland’s presidency of the Council of the EU with a Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra celebratory concert led by Chief Conductor Susanna Mälkki. The celebratory concert will also feature Tero Saarinen Company’s impressive Zimmerman Trio, which combines dance and visuality with the orchestra’s music.

In November, the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux will hold the RE/defining Masculinities weeks in Helsinki (starting 4.11.) and Brussels (starting 27.11.). The multidisciplinary project produced by an extensive partner network deals with the fierce transformation of gender roles and masculinity in particular. The project, which highlights equality and gender diversity aims to stimulate debate on how many models of masculinity exist and how men must also redefine their position in society. Works by Ima Iduozee, Artor Jesus Inkerö and Aurora Reinhard are among those featured in Brussels. In addition, the institute has filmed short videos dealing with manliness that will be shared on social media.    

Also in November, the institute, design and research agency Raven & Wood Agency and the Embassy of Finland in Brussels will host a day-long conference on the importance of space planning for peace building and peace negotiations.

Finland’s third presidency of the Council of the EU will start in July and continue until the end of the year. The presidency period’s official website can be found at eu2019.fi. The site contains information about the period’s themes, events and programme.