Idea, concept, curating: Pekka Niskanen. Inter-Cool 3.0 exhibition in Dortmund in 2010, when Ruhr area was the European Capital of Culture, Finnish Labour Museum Werstas Tampere 2011.
The show Art in Conflict explores the diverse ways in which mediated representations function in the construction of identity politics. The show comprises of four different topics – activism, communities, fashion and the wild. The works in the show overlap with each other as well as break these artificially constructed boundaries.
The issues raised by the works of art in the show involve the construction of identity. The core idea is to explore the production of identity through stories, involving space and the presentation of the stories. The show seeks to examine how a spatially fixed identity can also be a political issue, and how this politics of identity is implemented using representational means.
The show explores possibilities for another kind of narration for some of the stories transmitted by mass media, and how hegemonic models of thinking could be shifted through narratives. The exhibition is targeted at young people and I have chosen to mostly use socially engaged methods. The Lammi refugee centre, Tammerkoski high school, Tampere University of Applied Sciences (TAMK) Fine Art students and contemporary art center Hirvitalo collaborated to realize the show. Socially engaged art as a strategy made it possible to make almost every work in the exhibition in collaboration with young people or local communities.
The publicity the young people’s performances and other content get was part of the performative aspect of the exhibition. Their narratives about how they have challenged the hegemonic culture were repeated in news sites on the web, blogs, online communities and discussion forums. The Internet is just as important a distribution channel for the performances as traditional media for the performances. The exhibition also emphasized the role of the Internet as a tool for making art. It has enabled new networks through which young people can organize and activate supporting individuals, groups and media. Their work against the established behavior models also changed our perceptions of young people and constructed their own identities.