press release

Should we be surprised by the snows of an Arab winter, following the revolutionary spring of 2011 and the hot Summers of 2012 and 2013? These recurring waves of upheaval have repeatedly reconfigured the relations between art, society and politics. Artists and intellectuals played a significant part in taking over squares, walls and streets—using these spaces for art and messages aligned with the protests. Yet today, with the re-entrenchment of old institutions, many artists and intellectuals feel that they are "back to square one."

Back to (The) Square 1 is curated as part of the RE-ALIGNED Project, which seeks to generate public reflection on how newly rebellious young movements the world over mesh with contemporary forms of art. Commissioned by Checkpoint Helsinki, the current show features a small selection of leading and emerging artists with experience of a new form of revolutionary agency. By necessity, it can represent only a few fragments—artistic insurgencies, gestures, reflections and documents of resistance—gathered during fresh curatorial research in Egypt and Palestine.

Participating artists include a rising figure in Palestinian contemporary art and film, Khaled Jarrar; leading representatives of Cairo's internationally recognised street-art scene, Ganzeer and Ammar Abo Bakr; their peers from contemporary art and socially oriented practice Hany Rashed, Jasmina Metwaly, Hamdy Reda and Ahmed Hefnawy; and members of the social-media and video-archive collective Mosireen, known also as the organisers of Tahrir Cinema.

These artists are representatives of a still youthful movement, catching its breath. This is no easy task in the current vacuum of legitimate alternatives. Most artists and thinkers at the heart of the rebellious generation reject the resurgent security state just as much as its reactionary religious counterpart.

In previous iterations of the RE-ALIGNED project, the curators have described this rejection of multiple mainstreams as a non-aligned position. The works in this exhibition, however, are tempered by a fire which can burst into flame any time again. A spark leading to a renewed re-alignment of forces—in Cairo, as much as Ramallah, Kiev, Istanbul, or the Occupy and Global Justice movement—usually comes unexpectedly. Nothing is sure, save that after winter must come spring.

Programme –Screening of Infiltrators by Khaled Jarrar, Tuesday 4 March at 18h, Cinema Andorra –Opening of exhibition, Thursday 6 March at 18h, Gallery Forum Box –Intervention in public space, Hunger Wall by Khaled Jarrar, Friday 7 March at 17h, Baana –Screening of Mohamed Mahmoud Street (single-take) by Jasmina Metwaly, Friday 7 March at 18h, Lasipalatsi Square –Exhibition walk-through with the curators & round table with the artists, Friday 7 March at 19h, Gallery Forum Box –Screening of the Oscar-nominated film The Square by Jehane Noujaim, Thursday 27 March at 17h, Kino Engel

Back to (The) Square 1 is the first iteration of a new phase of the RE-ALIGNED project. In partnership with Helsinki Festival in August 2014, the second iteration will be built around larger-scale commissions for Checkpoint Helsinki by Perpetuum Mobilε.

Checkpoint Helsinki is a new, non-profit art organisation that commissions and produces artworks and projects by emerging international artists. Back to (The) Square 1 is its first large-scale commission, curated by Perpetuum Mobilε, as the first iteration of a new phase of their RE-ALIGNED Project. The second iteration, Back to (The) Square 2, will take place in August, with new commissions as part of Helsinki Festival. This project intertwines closely with Checkpoint Helsinki’s mission to raise discussion about the role of contemporary art in public space and in society at large.

Curated by Marita Muukkonen and Ivor Stodolsky of Perpetuum Mobilε

Commissioned by Checkpoint Helsinki as part of the RE-ALIGNED Project by Perpetuum Mobilε

In collaboration with Gallery Forum Box / HIAP - The Helsinki International Artist Programme / Helsinki Festival

Supported by The City of Helsinki / The Finnish Cultural Foundation / The Kone Foundation / The Ministry of Education and Culture / The Swedish Cultural Foundation