Helsinki Photography Biennial 27.3.–14.5.2014


Wolf Michael - tokyo compression 39

Michael Wolf, from series Tokyo Compression # 39, 2010 / HPB12



1 March – 30 April 2012

The 12th edition of Helsinki Photography Biennial was organized in March–April 2012.

HPB12 featured photographic art from Finland as well as abroad. In April 2012 the biennial became a Month of Photography, expanding not only to the main partner museums but to many galleries and public spaces in the Finnish capital. The biennial created a highly visible and interesting set of events for the art form whose role as one of the most interesting mediums in both Finnish and international contemporary art is beyond question.

The theme of HPB12 was be urbanity and the city. Through these concepts, the biennial explored how art meets the city, how the city receives art, and how urbanity is addressed in art. Through photography and moving image works, the festival examined the core and the boundaries of the city, its points of conflict and places of calm.


The City and Urbanity

The theme of HPB12 was urbanity and the city. The biennial explored the city and the urban way of life by the means of photography and through alternating and even mutually challenging approaches and assertions.

The biennial exhibitions explored the city as a constructed environment, a kind of interface for living. They sought to offer viewpoints on the kind of world we are building around ourselves, and how we are affected in turn by the built and planned environment. The works on show also  wanted to illustrate what we are doing to the city and thereby to ourselves, and, conversely, what the city does to the people who live there, and how it affects our notions of ourselves and other people.

How does art encounter the city, and how does the city receive art?

HPB12 uses art to explore the core and the boundaries of the city, its points of conflict and places of calm. In reflection of this, part of the exhibitions were held in institutional and stable urban venues: museums and galleries. Some of the art in the biennial spilled outside such places, however, into the pluralistic and diverse city itself, into the restless and constantly changing public space. Art that appropriates public spaces was in line with the theme of the biennial, because importantly a city is an entity that never ceases to change and challenge its inhabitants.

The city and urbanity are fluid and multifaceted concepts: people living in Helsinki look at their city with different eyes than Londoners or Tokyoites look at theirs. In other words, our understanding of our own and of foreign cities differ. And yet all cities share the resolve of their inhabitants to enclose themselves in an environment founded on community and an intentionally constructed environment. Because there are countless different cities in the world, with all sorts of inhabitants, HPB12 will feature urban art from Finland as well as abroad.

HPB12 brought together an array of different actors in the field of contemporary art in the Helsinki metropolitain area. The biennial included 60 exhibitions, 26 galleries and museums, 25 events of which 4 were projects in public space, 2 seminars, 3 main exhibitions. The biennial included artist-run spaces, as well as many interesting private galleries. There were also brand new spaces amongst the venues.

The HPB12 main exhibitions were organized in collaboration with the Helsinki City Art Museum. The venues included the Hakasalmi Villa and Sederholmin House, as well as Photographic Gallery Hippolyte. The main exhibitions were curated by group that included photographic artists Ari Kakkinen, Marko Karo, Harri Pälviranta, Kari Soinio ja Hanna Weselius as well as curator Jari Harju from Helsinki City Museum.


HPB12 Main Exhibitions:

John Duncan: Bonfires then Beacons, 1.–25.3.2012 Photographic Gallery Hippolyte, Kalevankatu 18 B, Helsinki

No Exit – Urban Space, 2.3. – 22.4.2012 Helsinki City Museum Hakasalmi Villa, Mannerheimintie 13b, Helsinki

Artists: Isidro Blasco, Chad Gerth, Stephen Gill, Anthony Haughey, Susan Hiller, Simo Karisalo, Kalle Lampela, Jukka Lehtinen, Noomi Ljungdell, Adam Magyar, Peter Margonelli, David McMillan, Sohei Nishino, Jiang Pengyi, William Raban, Abigail Reynolds, Jani Ruscica, Christina Seely, Christopher Thomas

No Exit – Urban Being 2.3.– 29.4.2012 Helsinki City Museum Sederholm House, Aleksanterinkatu 18, Helsinki

Artists: Juha Allan Ekholm, Nina Berman, Tuukka Kaila, Enrique Metinides, Jukka Onnela, Sami Perttilä, Salla Pesonen, The Pier (Nils Petter Löfstedt, Erik Vestman), Dana Popa, Nicolas Provost, Roskakaupunki (Sirpa Kinnunen, Emilia Kurila, Teemu Lehmusruusu), Maija Saksman, Sanni Seppo, Katja Tähjä, Michael Wolf

No Exit -seminar organized 2.3.2012, 9.30–15.30, Kino Engel (Sofiankatu 4, Helsinki).


HPB12 Supporters and Partners:
Alfred Kordelinin säätiö, British Council, Helsingin kulttuurikeskus, Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö, Suomen Kulttuurirahaston Uudenmaan rahasto, Svenska kulturfonden, Unkarin kulttuuri- ja tiedekeskus, WSOY:n kirjallisuussäätiö, Bookwell Oy, DB Schenker, Helsinki Photomedia, Kamera -lehti,


Union of Artist Photographers/ Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Helsinki City Museum
City of Helsinki Cultural Office