2021 celebrates the power of art – exhibitions on contemporary art giant Daniel Buren and mesmerising colourist Konrad Mägi at EMMA

Daniel Buren: Les Deux Plateaux, sculpture permanente in situ, cour d’honneur du Palais Royal, Paris, 1985–1986. Detail. © DB-ADAGP Paris
Daniel Buren: Les Deux Plateaux, sculpture permanente in situ, cour d’honneur du Palais Royal, Paris, 1985–1986. Detail. © DB-ADAGP Paris

The theme of EMMA’s 2021 exhibition programme is the power of art. Art has the power to take the viewer amidst important discussions and produce memorable experiences, even in challenging times. The year honours strong exhibitions designed especially for EMMA, along with virtuoso-like mastery of different materials, techniques and colours.

A world-renowed French artist, Daniel Buren (b. 1938) takes over EMMA’s exhibition space during summer 2021. Buren, who is known for his radical, “in situ” practice will create entirely new works for EMMA. The works will build on the horizontal and open features of the museum’s architecture, along with its natural light. Along with the exhibition, interventions and events by Buren will take place in public space. Daniel Buren is a giant in the field of contemporary art, with a career spanning over 50 years and more than 3000 site-specific exhibitions around the world. The exhibition is curated in collaboration with the Danish art agency Creator Projects.

The exhibition by Hesselholdt & Mejlvang will be in dialogue with Buren’s exhibition and the local environment. In their works, the Danish art duo Hesselholdt (b. 1974) and Vibeke Mejlvang (b. 1976) draws our attention to ideologies and the symbols representing them. They analyse, for instance, practices related to skin colour and gender, with a particular focus on the cultural approaches to these subjects, often in a playful way.

In April, EMMA welcomes an exhibition that has been carried out in collaboration with design organisation Ornamo and its member artists, showcasing new Finnish ceramic art. The exhibition highlights art and design as well as the renewal process of the ceramic tradition through the themes of fracture and breakage. The exhibition will be placed in the centre of the Bryk & Wirkkala Visible Storage.

The fall will see an exceptionally large retrospective solo exhibition on Estonian Modernist Konrad Mägi (1878–1925). Mägi was the most significant representative of the Golden Age of Estonian Painting, but his life’s work has only now attracted interest in the international art field. The exhibition covering approximately 150 works includes the finest in the artist’s oeuvre, highlighting Mägi’s power of expression, exceptionality as a Modernist and a remarkable colourist. The exhibition is carried out in collaboration with Kumu Art Museum.

Kalle and Leena Nio’s joint project combining live performance and visual art, Painting Machine, is on display simultaneously with Konrad Mägi’s exhibition. Painting Machine includes weekly performances creating a new painting for the exhibition space. The machine, which utilises techniques of visual art and illusion, is the first joint project by the Nios.

In the summer, the media room of the Touch exhibition will see Jeannette Ehlres’ piece Black Bullets (2012). In the video piece, walking human figures and their reflections in Black Bullets have been pictured against the sky on a historic fort in Haiti on top of a mountain. The piece is a tribute to the Haitian revolution where slaves rebelled against the colonial government in 1791. Jeannette Ehlers (b. 1973) is a Danish Trinidadian artist, who has addressed structures of racism and colonialism in her works.

The fall welcomes Erkan Özgen’s video piece Wonderland (2016), located in the media room. In the piece, a deaf-mute boy called Muhammed uses gestures and sounds to describe the experiences his family went through when escaping the war. The wordless story by the 13-year-old Muhammed is a powerful statement against war. Erkan Özgen (b. 1971) is a Kurd from Turkey, who has approached the traumas of war and displacement in his works.

The year is ended by a large-sized installation by Chiharu Shiota, who is the commissioned artist of Saastamoinen Foundation and EMMA. The work, Tracing Boundaries, consists of a labyrinth of red yarn and old doors. The work is an invitation to move inside the large yarn labyrinth and journey into one’s self and memories.

The exhibition programme of 2021 will also see the solo exhibition of Aaron Heino that was postponed from summer 2020. The exhibition on the sculptor, who is the recipient of the Fine Arts Academy of Finland Prize in 2019, will consist primarily of new works by the artist.

2021 exhibition schedule:

Aaron Heino 17 February–18 April 2021
Daniel Buren 19 May–29 August 2021
Hesselholdt & Mejlvang 19 May–22 August 2021
Ceramics renewed 14 April 2021–February 2022
Konrad Mägi 29 September 2021–January 2022
Kalle and Leena Nio: Painting Machine 29 September 2021–12 December 2021
Chiharu Shiota 27 October 2021–8 May 2022

Touch exhibition media room programme:
Jeannette Ehlers: Black Bullets (2012) 19 May–19 September 2021
Erkan Özgen: Wonderland (2016) 29 September 2021–16 January 2022

Photos:
Konrad Mägi: Nordic Landscape with Pines, 1908-10. Eesti Kunstimuuseum
Jeannette Ehlers: Black Bullets, 2012. Video still.

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