Behind the picture Tero Nauha’s political performance Exception saved the spirit of the time in 2016 – but why and how is the performance preserved in the museum’s collections?

The Behind the Picture series presents interesting works from the collections of Finnish museums.

Behind the picture

Tero Nauha: Exception, 2016, Vantaa Art Museum Arts collections.

Five years ago at the opening of the Vantaa Art Museum Arts’ You & Me exhibition, a performing artist was seen Tero Nauhan performance art Exception (2016).

In the performance, Nauha sat at a table studying the Finnish law book and cut words out of it with a paper knife. Fragments of the law on labor and free movement of third-country nationals ended up one after another on the black stone on the table.

Algerian music plays on a vinyl record in the background. Excerpts from the story of an unknown asylum seeker were occasionally heard.

The political performance of the tape saved the spirit of the times. The issue of the status of asylum seekers was strongly discussed in the public debate at the time. After the performance, the work ended up in Arts ’collections.

Performance art has been one of the expressions of contemporary art since the 1960s. However, as museum collections, performances are in the minority.

However, it is a specialty of the Arts collection and, along with street art, the focus of the collection. At the same time as the performance of the Tape, the collections were acquired Roi Vaaran and Beate Linnen work Five.

Arts museum manager Pauliina Kähärä describes the performance as a challenging collection object. Like theater and musical performance, a performance takes place in a transient moment and can never be repeated in exactly the same way.

It therefore differs from many other works in museum collections, which museums seek to keep as intact as possible for future generations.

When they end up in museums, paintings and sculptures are also not dependent on the artist, unlike a performance that lives and dies with the artist.

However, performance is not the only form of contemporary art that disappears into museum collections or changes radically over time. In addition to performances, such may be works based on particularly fragile materials such as light or scents.

Performance art can be stored in collections in many different ways. Some museums prefer recordings, such as can also be found on the Ribbon Exceptionist. In addition to this, Artsi has recorded the artefacts used in the performance, such as a law book, a magnifying glass, coal and the vinyl records played in the performance.

If necessary, these parts of the work can also be brought from the collection to the exhibition spaces. However, it is no longer possible to fully return to the original performance itself.

Multi however, the performance remains alive as stories about it. This has happened, among other things Marina Abramovićin and Ulayn to the world-famous walking performance The Lovers: The Great Wall Walk (1988), where the common sky of lovers ended with a long hike and encounter on the Great Wall of China.

Many of the Finnish collections remember those belonging to the collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma Nestori Syrjälä Running Manin (2016–2017), where a man in a black suit rushes through the city. The work is identified, although only a few actually got to witness the man’s run.

Rarity and the surviving stories of the works are part of the reason why the performances are so popular.

According to preliminary information, one of the highlights of next year’s Ars 22 exhibition is performance: Kiasma will bring to Finland the Lithuanian Climate Change Opera, which won the best pavilion award at the Venice Biennale in 2019. Sun & Sea (Marina).

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