By Water – Icelandic artists on the shores of Finland, is a major exhibition mounted by the Pro Artibus Foundation. The show will extend across four exhibition spaces, one of them the Amos Anderson Art Museum in Helsinki, and outdoors in the town of Ekenäs (in Finnish: Tammisaari), in summer 2016. The project continues the series of exhibitions of Nordic contemporary art produced by Pro Artibus, and is the most extensive showing of Icelandic contemporary art ever held in Finland. The Curator of the exhibition is Juha-Heikki Tihinen.
The theme of the exhibition is the relationship between water and people. The starting point is the significance of water in Icelandic culture and society. In Iceland as well as Finland the sea has been something that both divides and unites. Throughout the history of humankind the question of water and its use, ownership of water and its conservation and protection, have been interwoven with culture, trade, industry and art. This everyday theme, humankind’s dependence on water, is a good starting point for an exhibition that presents the diversity and richness of Icelandic contemporary art.
The exhibition will spread out across various municipalities and exhibition spaces like an archipelago. In Helsinki it will be shown at the Amos Anderson Art Museum and Forum Box gallery. In Ekenäs it will be at Gallery Elverket, Villa Schildt and in outdoor spaces in the town. The individual contributions have all been planned with the character of the exhibition space in mind. The artists represent the polymorphous indiscipline of Icelandic contemporary art, and the choices have been guided more by an interest in the differences between Icelandic artists than by a desire to find national common ground.
The contributing artists represent different generations and approaches, but they have all worked with the theme of water prior to this exhibition. At the Amos Anderson Art Museum: Steinunn Gunnlaugsdóttir, Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, Hekla Dögg Jónsdóttir, Sirra Sigrún Sigurðardóttir and Rúrí.
The title of the exhibition contains a minor play on words. The Finnish Veden varassa implies dependence on water, but also finding oneself in water and being there, and implicitly staying on the surface. Trampa vatten, the Swedish title of the exhibition, refers primarily to staying on the surface of the water. The English By Water is linked to being beside water, along with the way things are transported with the aid of water, via water or waterways. The trilingual title is also aimed at those who deal with these three languages every day. Multilingualism suits small nations that often have to communicate in a language other than their native tongue.
By Water will be accompanied by an English-language publication containing supplementary texts, articles profiling the contemporary-art scenes in Iceland and Finland, and Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir’s art of the written and spoken word.