Point of View: Meet Africa at ARS 11

"Instead of the Afro-pessimism spawned by the news, ARS 11 offers diverse and even conflicting stories."

WHY AFRICA? Africa is a topical theme in art, and also in other areas. The continent has in recent years been the subject of growing interest economically, politically as well as in research and culture. Finnish companies are investing in Africa. Thanks to the mobility of products, information and people, Africa has become part of everyday life in Finland.

INSTEAD OF the Afro-pessimism spawned by the news, ARS 11 offers diverse and even conflicting stories, observations and interpretations that, owing to their global nature, also touch us here in Finland. The themes of the exhibition are topical, such as the issues of refugeeism, environmental problems and urban life. At best, such a broad review of African contemporary culture in Finland can produce new understanding and also provide background information on the situation in today’s Africa. ARS 11 will extend the idea of what Africa, contemporary art and African contemporary art are today.

ARS 11 IS wide-ranging, open and pluralistic in terms of both its content and structure. Instead of aiming to present a cross-section of African contemporary art, it focuses on selected perspectives that have emerged during a two-year research process into the statements and works of more than two hundred artists.

UNLIKE MANY OTHER exhibitions of African contemporary art, ARS 11 also includes Western artists who address African issues in their work. Artists of African origin currently living outside their native country are also featured in the exhibition.

ONE OF THE VIEWPOINTS uniting the artists in ARS 11 is memory and recollection. They all have their own way of rewriting history, many use archives as their sources, others their personal memories. Remembering is a process that embraces within itself both the past and the present. In the presentation of personal memories, private experience merges with general history – and the meeting is often a charged one.

ARS 11 EXHIBITION its extensive events programme examine the current realities and histories of Africa, a continent of mental images, using contemporary art as a vehicle. The exhibition will be open until the end of November. With such a long exhibition period, it will be easy to visit the exhibition more than once. The show is extensive, and there is no need to try to see everything at one go. You can always return, to discover new perspectives in the exhibition and the events programme.

We look forward to seeing you at ARS 11
Pirkko Siitari, Museum Director