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27 May 2009

Finnish Pavilion at 53rd Venice Biennale

© Jussi Kivi
Fire & Rescue Museum, 2009
Courtesy the artist.

Fire & Rescue Museum by Jussi Kivi


Pavilion Opening:
Friday, 5 June 2009 at 1 pm

+358 5070809
+358 947800818

Tallberginkatu 1 C 96
SF-00180 Helsinki

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Jussi Kivi's collection related to firefighting stems originally from his personal and nostalgic hommage to the capability of defence against fire, one of the elementary natural forces. An accidental encounter with an underground nuclear bomb shelter constructed by the Soviet army in eastern Estonia brought the collection out of confinement and transformed it to communicate new meanings. Kivi's childhood adoration for rescuers is reflected against the threat of total destruction. Neither artefacts of heroism or underground bunkers with their didactic message can provide protection against the threat.

Fire & Rescue Museum does not fulfill the expectations of archival obsession of constructing an image of linear societal progress. On the contrary, characterised by a feeling of ephemerality and contingence as regards its contents and composition, it is a fragmentary collection of material objects without regard to the past or future, and it purposefully challenges classificatory ambitions for rationality. By doing so, it gives rise to very concrete questions: What is worthy of being preserved, documented and remembered, either on the personal or on the collective level? How to separate useful records from useless garbage?

The project's precarious position between the artist's personal need for order and safety and the disorder and chaos of the surrounding reality presents in miniature the situation we are facing in the world at large. In the safety provided by the walls of the small wooden pavilion in Giardini, designed in the period of reconstruction after WW2 by Alvar Aalto, Fire & Rescue Museum reminds both of the need of caring and the need of forecasting. If the preconditions of life at a time of world-wide environmental deterioration and widespread poverty are neglected, any rescue plans toward threats of future conflicts stand helpless.

Jussi Kivi (1959, Helsinki):
Jussi Kivi's art at large deals with the relationship between humanity and nature. As a founding member of Romantic Geographic Society he has conducted expeditions both into faraway places in the wilderness and into urban wastelands in the vicinity of Helsinki, and then documented outcomes of these trips through a variety of different media. This documentation is not aiming at linearity and categorization so inherent in western thinking. On the contrary, it reveals the paradoxical nature of the belief in nature as an objectifiable entity that exists independently from its human observer. RGS' 'archives' speak for passion and subjective enthusiasm as equally rational and permissible elements in the acquisition of knowledge as the traditional methods of objectifying science.

The exhibition at the Finnish Pavilion is the first international co-production between FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange and Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, Helsinki.

Berndt Arell, Director of Kiasma

Curatorial team:
Marketta Seppälä, Director of Frame; Arja Miller, Chief Curator of Kiasma; Marita Muukkonen, Curator of Frame.

Jussi Kivi's Fire & Rescue Museum has been the main catalyst for the 10th issue of Framework: The Finnish Art Review, published by FRAME. Built around the theme Rescue Plan, it reflects issues related to current global crisis and provides a wider context for Kivi's artistic case study on defence and protection.

The Finnish Pavilion is designed by Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) in 1956. Since the beginning the pavilion has been used by Finnish organizers of exhibitions in the architecture biennials. From 1962 through 2005 in visual art biennials, it was rented to other countries - Italy, Argentina, Portugal, and most recently Iceland. Since 2007, with the support from the Finnish Ministry of Culture, similarly as in the first years 1956-1960 of the pavilion, it will be used by Finnish organizers, the Finnish Museum of Architecture in architecture biennials and FRAME Finnish Fund for Art Exchange in visual art biennials.

For additional press information please check:
For press inquires related to this announcement and the project, and for interviews with the artist, please contact:
Marita Muukkonen, or Piia Laita,