Point of View: Collections are a document of our time

"A museum is inevitably an archive."

DOCUMENTS AND THE DOCUMENTARY genre are commonly associated with lencebased images. This stems not only from the technique but also from the early belief that the camera provides a window on reality and that camera-captured images are somehow more objective than, say,
paintings. The presumed documentary objectivity of the photograph has been a topic of heated debate particularly in the 1980s and 90s, with commentators emphasising how a photograph is always an interpretation and a sum of choices made by the photographer, constituting its own reality. The photographic image – even the moving image – can distort and tell untruths.

SPREADING OUT across the top three floors of the museum and the Kiasma Theatre, Reality Bites is our most extensive thematic exhibition to date featuring works from our own collections. One of our motivations in producing such an extensive exhibition on this topical theme was the desire to increase the visibility of our collections and their appreciation among the general public. Kiasma’s collections form the core and backbone of the museum’s very existence and all its endeavours.

THE THEME of this exhibition prompts our museum, too, to consider its policies and principles, for a museum is inevitably an archive and repository of documents. Kiasma’s collections are in themselves a constantly expanding document of the art of our time. They reflect changing ideas regarding what constitutes art in the eyes of those assembling our collections and the prevailing cultural constructs of each given period. Being part of the Finnish National Gallery, the Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art has a special responsibility to capture the zeitgeist as faithfully as possible. And, yet, just like each individual document, our collections too are inevitably the sum of certain interpretations and choices.

OUR VISITORS are invited to share their own interpretations of the realities created and relayed to us by art and to consider how art itself is a document – both fiction and non-fiction at the same time.

Pirkko Siitari, museonjohtaja