press release

Helsinki Biennaali 2020
first edition
One HEL of an art experience.
12.06.2020 – 27.09.2020

Helsinki Biennial is an international art event that will bring outstanding contemporary art to maritime Helsinki. The first Helsinki Biennial will be held in summer 2020 in the unique surroundings of Vallisaari Island. Helsinki Biennial will present around 35 international artists or groups of artists from both Finland and around the world. You can spot artworks outside along the cobbled path and inside historical buildings, gunpowder cellars and empty residential buildings. Sea you next summer on the treasure island of art!

Entitled The Same Sea, the inaugural edition of Helsinki Biennial 2020 will reflect on the notion of interdependence: every action and thing is connected, and supports the whole. Helsinki Biennial's head curators are Pirkko Siitari, Head of Exhibitions at HAM Helsinki Art Museum, and Taru Tappola, HAM's Head of Public Art. The biennial will bring together around 35 international artists or groups of artists from both Finland and around the world from June 12 to September 27, 2020.

The first names to be announced include:
Paweł Althamer, PL (b. 1967), BIOS Research Unit, FI (founded 2015), Katharina Grosse, DE (b. 1961), Gustafsson&Haapoja, FI (founded 2012), Hanna Tuulikki, UK (b. 1982), IC-98, FI (founded 1998), Marja Kanervo, FI (b. 1958), Tadashi Kawamata, JP/FR (b. 1953), Laura Könönen, FI (b. 1980), Alicja Kwade, PL (b. 1979), Tuomas A. Laitinen, FI (b. 1976), Jaakko Niemelä, FI (b. 1959), Mario Rizzi, IT/DE (b. 1962), and Maaria Wirkkala, FI (b. 1954).

Located on the city’s Vallisaari Island, a former military base, Helsinki Biennial 2020 will be comprised of 80% new commissions and site-specific works. Using the setting of Vallisaari to form the tangible and conceptual starting point for the curation of the 2020 biennial, The Same Sea places emphasis on the biosphere as one interconnected entity.

A number of artists are working on subjects that originate from the daily life of Vallisaari’s former residents and the island’s military history. Some of the artworks deal not only with the local and global consequences of human activity, but also with alternative visions of the future. Located outside along cobbled paths and inside historical buildings, gunpowder cellars and empty residential buildings, the works highlight unknown and abandoned places whilst bestowing new meanings.

The diverse environment of Vallisaari sets a strict framework for the biennial. In accordance with the Helsinki City Strategy—aiming to be carbon neutral by 2035 and reduce emissions by 60% by 2030—Helsinki Biennial 2020 emphasises the importance of responsible values. Using a bespoke programme from the Finnish environmental management system EcoCompass, to direct production and infrastructure, the biennial prompts us to rethink current and entrenched modes of behaviour. As a city, Helsinki is committed to promoting a more sustainable way of life. The Think Sustainably service, launched earlier this year, invites visitors to make informed choices whilst at the biennial, and in all of Helsinki.

Offering alternative ways of experiencing a biennial, Helsinki Biennial champions art’s role in creating channels for discourse, radical empathy and ecological ethics.

The final list of artists and details on the new commissions will be announced in spring 2020.

The main partners of Helsinki Biennial 2020 are Metsähallitus and the Jane and Aatos Erkko Foundation. The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation and the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland are also supporting the biennial.