Exhibition Laboratory

Merimiehenkatu 36c
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Avoinna: 18–20
Näyttely:  Language of Belonging, SASHAPASHA: Kanava V
Ohjelma: Opastetut näyttelykierrokset SASHAPASHA klo 18 ja 19. Paikalla molempien näyttelyiden taiteilijoita sekä luvassa pientä tarjoilua. / Guided tours for SASHAPASHA at 6pm and 7pm. Artists from both exhibitions are present at the gallery. We’re serving some refreshments for gallery visitors.


Language of Belonging
Kuulumisen kieli Språkets tillhörighet 归属语言
Язык Включенности Le langage de l’appartenance Kuulumise keel لغة الانتماء

The exhibition title needed to be changed. The content was there, ready. But we were struggling with words.

How could we capture the aims of inclusivity, for all bodies, for humans and non-humans? Is not the mother tongue of all born from an intuitive desire to belong? To be heard? To feel safe?

From our efforts towards diversity and inclusion comes the struggle to create definitions, to translate, to understand, and to become aware of how our words, language, culture and communities shape our thoughts and imaginations. What are our possible futures? What is our present reference? How can we reconsider ourselves by listening to others?

Fourteen artists from different backgrounds, art departments, mother tongues and cultures, will be showing a range of works and perspectives on these themes. We recast our first exhibition title to capture the essence of what we all seek to find: a Language of Belonging.

Through the exhibitions’ artworks and public programs, including a performance, panel discussion, Open Mic Night and guest lecturer, we seek to open up the conversation. With dialogue and listening comes room for awareness and empathy. We need you to help expand the conversation and together create meaningful positive change. Come join us!

Exhibiting artists:
Dasha Che, Linda Ciesielski, Rag Elnyg, Maria Erikson, Aleksi Kallioja, Yassine Khaled (alumni), Lauri Lähteenmäki, Tuuli Ojala, Emma Peura, Eeti Piiroinen, Leena Saarinen, Milja Salonen, Jingke Xu, Haliz Yosef

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The KANAVA V exhibition is the result of five years of research by the artist duo SASHAPASHA which they began in 2016. KANAVA is an art project dedicated to the memory of the Soviet Gulag (ГУЛАГ) – the forced-labour camp system which operated from 1929 to 1953. The project was named after the White Sea-Baltic canal in northern Karelia. The Finnish word Kanava highlights the connection between the Gulag system and the history of Finland. Nowadays It is commonly known that Finns comprised of a large percentage of Gulag victims in Karelia.

Over the duration of this project, SASHAPASHA (Sasha Rotts and Pavel Rotts) has been working in different places around Russia researching the history and impact of the Gulag. KANAVA V utilises the framework of a five-year plan, in keeping with the national economy of the Soviet Union called “Pyatiletka”.

From Onego lake, the canal moves over the high ground and descends towards the White Sea. The gradient of the gallery with the stairs up and down is very similar. The canal contains nineteen gates from beginning to end, and this gate system was used by the artists as a structure for arranging the exhibition space.

The construction of the canal was the first project of the Soviet penal labour system, constructed under Stalin and proclaimed as a tool for “re-forging” the inmates into ‘normal’ Soviet citizens. In fact, the project was a way to accelerate industrialization with a small outlay, while simultaneously eliminating the opposition. Following the spread of the gulag system over the Eurasian continent SASHAPASHA has travelled through different post-soviet territories from Karelia, all the way to Vladivostok.

One of the points through the endless map of the Gulag is the city of Norilsk, situated above the polar circle in the Taimyr region in Russia, where one of the biggest and harshest forced labour was situated. It specialised in excavating copper and nickel. Artists are travelling to Norilsk during the KANAVA V exhibition to bring the result of the work to Helsinki.

As an exhibition, KANAVA V puts a comma in this five-year-long research project. It attempts to deal with the dehumanizing scale of the subject matter by allowing the artists to respond to work inside a cohesive frame.

SASHAPASHA is a Helsinki based artistic duo created in 2009 in St.Petersburg by Sasha Rotts (born 1985) and Pavel Rotts (born 1982). Artists are working in various media: installation, performance, painting, sculpture, sound art, animation, object, video-art etc. They have graduated from St.Petersburg Stieglitz State Academy of Art and Design and Pro Arte Institute, St.Petersburg. Currently they are studying in Academy of Fine Arts of Uniarts Helsinki. Founders of the SAHSAPASHA fashion jewellery brand took part in a variety of fashion shows in St. Petersburg, Moscow and London.

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Merimiehenkatu 36c, 00150 Helsinki

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