ARS 06 – Sense of the Real

ARS 06 was born very freely and loosely because we did not commit ourselves to a rigidly predetermined theme. The actual theme became more focused during the exhibition process. We wanted to break free from a verbal framework and let the visual dimension guide us and provide the basis for our artist selection. Our basic idea was to put together an exhibition in which fundamental human emotions and basic experiences are examined though art.

In planning ARS, we did not shy away from big words and also sought to include already forgotten, marginalised or lesser used expressions in the art world rhetoric. Such expressions are inherently value-laden and represent grand emotions, such as compassion, grace, hatred, touch and hope. The extremes of emotions beckoned to us and created the different worlds of ARS 06, the worlds of money and pleasure, soul and religion, nature, caring, love and beauty. These worlds are the surface level of the exhibition, the heart is underneath.

ARS 06 is the latest in a long line of ARS exhibitions. ARS can be considered a deeply rooted institution of fine arts and is our most extensive and significant fine arts tradition with a clearly international emphasis and renown. The first exhibition was held in 1961 and this year’s exhibition is the seventh in all. Since Kiasma was completed and opened, the functions of ARS have also changed radically. Previously, their main function was to show what is happening elsewhere in the world, to bring the latest in contemporary art to Finland. The exhibitions then were reporting and educational. Now there is no longer that need. Finland is no longer on the periphery of the contemporary art world and we are well aware of what is being done internationally and are a significant contributor to the activity. Yet every once in a while there is a need for a major exhibition in which one or several core issues in art are explored. This is the case now and the reason for putting ARS 06 together. It is an exhibition which, despite its international flavour, is directed specifically at Finnish audiences.

What does art mean to people?
Through the works in the exhibition we wish to ask what art means to people. In fact, this is a fundamental question in all our work in the art museum. Now and always. Art is an ancient phenomenon, a companion to man older than bread. It has been said that art makes us human and it may well be the case. On the other hand, art surely cannot change the world but it may mean a great deal to an individual. It can offer consolation, hope, joy or even rage that triggers new ways of thinking. Depending on the viewer, art can be a conversation partner, driving force and soul.

Putting the ARS 06 exhibition together has been a wonderful adventure. I hope that this great joint effort, ARS 06 - Sense of the Real, gives the audience new ways of looking at life and their own existence amongst these contraries. Most of all I hope that the exhibition will lead the way from looking to seeing and from seeing to experiencing.

May the exhibition give you experiences, grace, consolation, joy and cuts because they are all needed.

Tuula Karjalainen
Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma