In the final days of a damp, misty November, the body of a young woman is found in the icy embrace of the waters off Kaivopuisto Park. Her short dress and silk stockings prompt the press to dub her “the Belle of Kaivopuisto”. Who is this long-legged lovely, and what has occurred under cover of the shadowy stone city blocks? Helsinki’s busy police force gets a tragic new crime to solve.

Helsinki Noir is an exciting new exhibition concept that makes the viewer part of a crime drama. The exhibition is a fictitious dramaturgic composition, partly based on a series of historical crimes. The setting is Helsinki at the end of the 1930s, a lively, rapidly growing capital city. Viewers, too, can choose to join in solving the crime.

The visual component of Helsinki Noir combines the modernism of the early 20th centurywith contemporary art. At the core of the exhibition is a selection of works of Finnish modernism by members of the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations, with artists including Birger Carlstedt, Ragni Cawén, Marcus Collin, Ragnar Ekelund, Väinö Kamppuri, Ali Munsterhjelm, Yrjö Ollila, Juho Salminen, Santeri Salokivi and Sam Vanni. Representing contemporary art is Young Artist of the Year 2013 Jarno Vesala (b. 1977). Vesala, who together with Krister Gråhn won the 7th Turku Biennial in 2015, has made a name for himself with his mysterious and intriguing installations. One of them is Verhon takana (Behind the Veil), which has been constructed specifically for Helsinki Noir. This intensely atmospheric installation fires the starting shot for a story that carries us along the city’s shorelines and through its echoing street canyons. The exhibition’s script, written as a documentary detective story, and the artworks grouped into chapters carry the tale forwards.

The exhibition has been produced by the Association of Finnish Fine Arts Foundations (STSY) and curated by the Amos Anderson Art Museum’s Head of Exhibitions Susanna Luojus.