I don’t really like art galleries. Or Christmas fruit cake. And as a woman of a certain age I feel like I should – but sometimes I stand in front of paintings wondering how long before I can move on to the gallery cafe or gift shop.
But I loved Kiasma, Helsinki’s Museum of Contemporary Art. The exhibitions are tactile and interactive, offering inspiring representations of ideas, rather than classical depictions of iconic scenes.
In one room we were invited to wander through thousands of coloured ribbons, feeling our way blindly as we tried not to bump into each other. I later doubled back to go through again because I just felt so happy in there amongst all that colour.
I loved the glasshouse that was filled only with green items, like the work of a colour-blind bower bird or an OCD backyard hoarder.
I wandered around big coloured blocks depicting the houses of an Italian village and large copper circles that spelled terve (welcome) in braille. I laughed with strangers as we tried to figure out why our images were not reflected in the mirror before us.
I was deeply moved by the work of Alfredo Jaar, a Chilean artist who addresses political and humanitarian issues with his art. One Million Finnish Passports is a room of just that, showing how many people would have been permitted into Finland had they a more open immigration policy. The Silence of Nduwayezu is a room containing a million slides of the eyes of a boy who saw his parents killed in front of him. Many of Jaar’s works comment on the world’s failure to talk about issues happening in African nations.
I left Kiasma feeling informed and entertained and a bit better about myself for genuinely enjoying an art gallery experience. In fact I felt elated because I enjoyed it so much. And as it was raining outside I was happy there was still time to look around the art gallery gift shop.
I’d love to know – what have been your favourite art gallery experiences?