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+ - Loiterer’s paradise to be opened

Loiterer’s paradise to be opened

Erno Enkenberg: Cartographer, 2018, oil on canvas.

Wed 13 June 2017

Mänttä Art Festival’s summer 2018 art exhibition Roadmap will be opened to the public on 17 June 2018. The 57 artists of the exhibition, curated by art critic and gallerist Veikko Halmetoja, will take the exhibition visitors on winding paths to map out the world. The main exhibition location is Pekilo, but works are also exhibited and experienced in the townscape, in Joenniemi and online.

Roadmap is mainly built on the three floors of Pekilo as well as on three guiding themes. Curator Veikko Halmetoja specifies that these themes should not be followed too closely.

“It is important that each floor has quieter moments and places to breathe. I want the exhibition to be concrete, but I also wish that people dare to build cloud castles.”

Ground, nature, humanity

“The first floor is the floor of ground, nature and humanity. Macadam crunches underfoot, a forest grows around you and the destinies of humans move you,” Veikko Halmetoja describes.

Visitors can start their journey directly from the Pekilo lobby and track the lives of people in Dar Es Salaam. The interactive video installationTracking Dar Es Salaam by Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen handles questions about humanity, human dignity and the role of an individual in society. Installation Suomi Finland 5926 by Aleksi Liimatainen and Mikko Paakkonen brings the railway yard into the exhibition space, accompanied with the sense of idleness that could be interrupted at any time by the sounds of an arriving train. When following the railway, you can pop into a forest: Drawing installation Valley of Happiness by Tiina Kivinen takes the visitors to the depths of nature and invites them to consider, for example, the role of forests and landscape concept as a part of protecting the environment.

Social discussion and philosophy

“The third floor is the floor of politics and philosophy. The pieces exhibited on the third floor focus on social discussion, power and its side effects.”

One of the exhibited works is the short film Ex Nihilo by Timo Wright, which describes the human attempt of controlling life and death from three different perspectives. The paintings of Kaj Stenvall, on the other hand, dismantle the power of the leaders of major powers through humour. Collage by Saara Särmä, Underbelly, sheds light on the modern geography of fear – online hate speech.

Shamanistic paintings and holy books

The fourth floor of Pekilo presents the world of fairy-tales, myths and religions. The exhibited works include, for example, small shamanistic paintings by Pekka Väyrynen, mandalas by Rannveig Helgadóttir, covers of holy books of monotheist religions made with bead weaving technique by Dzamil Kamanger and bush wind folk by Outi Heiskanen.

Paradise Island by Aura Kotkavirta is a documented performance that can also be followed online at Additionally, the work Plantae Vagabundae by Kalle Hamm & Dzamil Kamanger is available online at The work's illustrations are exhibited at Autereen tupa, Joenniemi. Plantae Vagabundae has been made in cooperation with the Serlachius museums.

Graffiti by EGS are exhibited at the Mänttä townscape. In addition to this, the humoristic, circus-themed Art Wagon Linnuntie (‘Bird’s road’) by Virpi Kanto and Tapani Kokko will visit the city during the summer.

This year, Mänttä Art Festival will turn 25. The event, first organised as a biennale, has become an annual summer event that reviews modern art mainly from Finland.

“It is an honour to be involved in the making of the exhibition during this anniversary year. I have compiled Roadmap while carrying all the previous exhibitions with me. I have seen each of them, many of them several times,” says Veikko Halmetoja, who lived in Mänttä during his childhood and youth.

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+ - The 2018 Mänttä Art Festival - a Loiterer's Paradise and a Roadmap to the World

The 2018 Mänttä Art Festival - a Loiterer's Paradise and a Roadmap to the World

A collection of artists participating the exhibition Roadmap and the curator. From left to right: Jukka Silokunnas, Tellervo Kalleinen, Kim Somervuori, Aleksi Liimatainen, Melina Paakkonen, Mikko Paakkonen, Jarno Vesala, Kirsi Pitkänen, Kirsimaria E. Törönen-Ripatti, curator Veikko Halmetoja, Ville Räty, Janne Laine, Teemu Korpela, Anna Pekkala, Emmi Kallio, Sari Tervaniemi.

The title for the XXIII Mänttä Art Festival held this summer will be Roadmap. For the exhibition, curator Veikko Halmetoja has selected 56 artists who will lead the exhibition visitors on a winding road to map the world. The Mänttä Art Festival, celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, will open for the public on June 17 and close at the end of August.
Roadmap delves into people's need to understand and control the reality that surrounds us. It offers commentary on boundaries and the exercise of power, curator Veikko Halmetoja explains.

One of the exhibition topics will be power relations in public spaces.
– We have increasingly less space that's free from any type of ownership. Ownership is power, and that power is often used to restrict people's presence and movement. Common space is also often supervised. Railway stations are wonderful places for a flâneur, but loitering at stations is forbidden, Halmetoja notes.
– The ground floor of Pekilo will be a loiterer's paradise. I am building an exhibition where you are allowed to get comfortable, Halmetoja promises.

The exhibition also deals with charting the worlds inside the mind, different world views and superpower politics. Even though some of the artworks present a critical point of view into difficult topics, they won't avert laughter.
– Laughter is a tool for deconstructing power, Halmetoja remarks.

Halmetoja has chosen artists of various ages and from various parts of Finland.
– I have selected a wide range of artists, some of them still unknown by the public at large. I have discovered interesting talents while teaching at art schools. Of course, I have also included several established artists and some very well-known names, Veikko Halmetoja says.

The artists of Roadmap also include former artistic directors of the Mänttä Art Festival: The curator of the 2012 festival, Ilona Valkonen, and the curators of the 2015 festival, Kalle Hamm and Dzamil Kamanger.
– I have also invited artists who I find are seriously investing in the kind of art that helps us understand and discern the world a little better. They are the true mappers and explorers of today, Halmetoja states.

Artists familiar from previous festival editions include Antti Laitinen, Tellervo Kalleinen & Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, Arttu Merimaa and Kaj Stenvall. Well-established artists who previously haven't been seen at Pekilo include Timo Vuorikoski and Stefan Bremer. Award-winning artists in the exhibition include Paul Gustafsson, Pasi Soukkala and Hanna Keynäs. All three have been respectively chosen by the Finnish Outsider Art Association Kettuki as their Artist of the Year.

– I also wanted to introduce to the exhibition some interfaces between visual arts and other disciplines. One representative of such is feminist researcher Saara Särmä, who creates political collages as part of her research and is known as the creator of the internationally famous All Male Panel Tumblr. Another distinctively feminist point of view is presented by Emilia Kokko, whose character 'The Talking Tit' will delight us via video art, Halmetoja reveals.

– I promise the audience an eventful visit with food for thought, beauty, ugliness and artworks that will leave an imprint in their memories. I myself can still recall several artworks from the first Mänttä Art Festival of 1993, and it would be an honour for me if 25 years from now, someone would say the same about the exhibition of 2018, Veikko Halmetoja concludes.

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+ - Veikko Halmetoja to Curate Mänttä Art Festival 2018

Veikko Halmetoja to Curate Mänttä Art Festival 2018

The Mänttä Art Festival's new curator, Veikko Halmetoja. (Photo: Elissa Määttänen.)

Mänttä Art Festival has selected gallery owner, art critic and curator Veikko Halmetoja (b. 1977) as the curator and artistic director of its 2018 exhibition.

Veikko Halmetoja is an all-round expert on visual arts, not least because he spent his childhood and youth in Mänttä. He first became involved with the Art Festival as an 18-year-old intern in 1995, when the exhibition venues included an entire block of flats in the Mänttä Town Centre. Last summer, at the age of 39, Halmetoja himself got to curate an exhibition set in a condemned block of flats in Mäntyharju.

– I have always been more of a hands-on than a scholarly type. This might be due to my past in Mänttä. I have learnt that ultimately, art workers always have to sink their hands into clay, Halmetoja reflects.
He thinks that exhibitions aren't curated in study rooms, but rather by living among the artists and their works and experiencing the artworks first-hand in the exhibition space.

Empowering, Experiential Art

– In art, I prefer to seek experiences that get under your skin rather than an intellectual challenge.

Halmetoja promises the XXIII Mänttä Art Festival to be an exhibition both down-to-earth and tangible, featuring a wide variety of artists and artworks.
– I want this exhibition to be an integrative and empowering experience.

The paths of the Art Festival and Veikko Halmetoja have run parallel for quite a while and crossed on several occasions. During 2007–2010, he even served as the Art Festival's Executive Director.

The summer of 2018 will mark the 25th anniversary of the first Mänttä Art Festival. Halmetoja is excited to take on the challenge.
– I feel that they were curious to see what kind of an exhibition could be curated by someone who knows every inch of Pekilo, the Art Festival's main venue.

Exhibition-wise, year 2017 has been quite hectic for Veikko Halmetoja. His schedule has included both smaller solo exhibitions and extensive group exhibitions.
– Apart from the block of flats in Mäntyharju, some of the more laborious projects have included Bridge at Helsinki's Virka Gallery, an exhibition delving into the intertwining national identities of Finland and Estonia. Another big project was ITEpäisyys which opened in Kokkola and travelled to Joensuu. The exhibition harmoniously combined contemporary art, outsider art and contemporary folk art under one roof.

For the coming year, Veikko Halmetoja has been clearing his schedule. He has refused offers to curate other group exhibitions and promises to focus solely on Mänttä Art Festival.

– I have seen every Mänttä Art Festival exhibition from the very first edition of 1993, most of them numerous times. My goal is to curate an exhibition intertwining all the ideas invoked by my visits to the Art Festival exhibitions during all these years.

Veikko Halmetoja's earlier projects include curating the exhibitions The Snowball Effect 3 (Kemi Art Museum & Aine Art Museum, 2016), The Sin (Serlachius Museum Gösta, Mänttä, 2014) and the 5th Triennial of Pirkanmaa (Tampere, 2012). He has written art reviews for newspapers Aamulehti in 2002–2007 and Helsingin Sanomat in 2010–2014. A popular lecturer, he has also worked as the editor of the art magazine 1/2, written extensively about visual arts for various publications and, since 2010, served as the publicist for Kajaani Poetry Week. Veikko Halmetoja is also the artistic director of ARTag Gallery in Helsinki.

Mänttä Art Festival has been organized by its founding association 'Mänttä Art Lovers' since 1993, first as a biennial and, since 1999, annually. The event was recently awarded the prestigious Finland Prize, recognizing its long-standing work in the field of Finnish contemporary art. Since 2002, the main exhibition venue has been Pekilo, a former animal feed refinery next to Mänttä's tallest chimney-stack.

The artist list will be released in late January, 2018.

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