A new private initiative KOHTA – kunsthalle opened in November in Helsinki’s Kalasatama (Fish harbour). The initiative was created by a group of Finnish international artists Martti Aiha, Magdalena Åberg, Thomas Nyqvist, Nina Roos and Hans Rosenström who were joined by curator and writer Anders Kreuger and filmmaker and lecturer Richard Misek to cooperate in Kohta’s programming.

The kunsthalle plans to exhibit five or six exhibitions yearly by international artists from various backgrounds and profiles. The programming is guided by its creators’ values whereby “Every group exhibition, even if it has only two artists in it, needs to strive for equal representation of both genders. This is something we, as exhibition-makers, must insist upon until we no longer have to. This insistence is in no way a compromise; instead it is a possibility, just like another insistence that must inform exhibition programming: that exhibitions should always function as images of the world, as it is and as we want it to be.”

Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Osan otto. Photo: Jussi Tiainen

The first exhibition in the space is a group show by a Finnish artist Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen with his work Osan otto, which can be translated as ‘the taking of a part’, ‘partaking’ as well as ‘condolence’ and a South African artist Donna Kukama with her work titled Not Yet (And Nobody Knows Why Not) and it is running until the 22 nd of December.

Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Osan otto. Photo: Jussi Tiainen

Laakkonen’s felled pine tree that was brought in front of the gallery building in the midst of asphalt and cars must have caused a little confusion at first and must have worked as an interest stirrer drawing people in to see the exhibition. Two parts were cut from the trunk of the pine and one of them, a dish, is situated inside the gallery and the other to an undisclosed place. These three parts of the tree all fit together perfectly were they put back together.

Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Osan otto. Photo: Jussi Tiainen

To me, the first thought about this arrangement was the question about humans’ way to exploit nature in order to fulfill our meaningless wants. Would the tree not have been more valuable alive in a forest where it could have remained a home for millions of organisms than as a plate for a human to eat from?

And once it has been felled there really is no way to stick it back together again no matter how much we might want to. Even if the pieces fit, unfortunately, it’s not going to come back to life.

Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen, Osan otto. Photo: Jussi Tiainen

Donna Kukama’s video performance filmed in a public space Not Yet (And Nobody Knows Why Not), 2008 is having its first showing in the Nordic region. In her work, she is portraying colonization’s continuing effects on Kenya and the struggles the people are having in finding their true political and social independence.

Both the artists are pointing at societal and political issues in their own environments and it creates an interesting combination. Two artists from different ends of the same time zone, two very different worlds and two seemingly different issues that really concern us all. I’ll be looking forward to visiting future exhibitions at KOHTA.

Donna Kukuma, Not Yet And Nobody

Liisa-Maija / Kunstportal

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