The current exhibition in Node, Rikottu hiljaisuus ( Broken Silence), is a course exhibition dealing with the thematic of trauma. To elaborate on the exhibition concept and content Node had a chat with one of the artists, Jani Nummela and one of the course tutors, Mimmu Rankanen.
Could you firstly say, in a few words, who you are, what you do and what is your role in the exhibition Broken Silence?
Mimmu: I am visual artist, art educator, art therapist and registered psychotherapist. I have been planning and teaching the course: ”Images of contemporary culture – trauma in art and therapy” for art education students together with art historian Tiina Purhonen. We have decided the structure and contents of the course, which includes students’ own art-making and exhibiting their works in the Broken silence. Additionally I used artistic processing myself by making an installation to the exhibition.
Jani: I am a third year art education student and I took part in the “Images of contemporary culture” course. I did a piece about shame for the exhibition with three other students. We collected 60 different texts from anonymous people about things they are ashamed of. The texts vary from single words to slightly longer stories.
Broken Silence is an exhibition for the course ”Images of contemporary culture – trauma in art and therapy”. What is the relation between the course content and the exhibition?
Mimmu: From teachers point of view, I hope artistic processing of the contents and concepts of trauma – which we have been lecturing and discussing during the course from different disciplinary viewpoints – have enabled each student more personal and deep approach to the subject. During the art-making process students had many discussions in their small groups and shared knowledge between them, so it has worked as a collaborative learning context. On the other hand, I believe in the importance of art-making as personally integrative experience, during which it is possible to integrate cognitive and conceptual thinking with embodied, emotional and sensory understanding.
Jani: We had to start planning the works quite early because the exhibition was situated in the middle of the course. If I understood correctly, there will be another exhibition at Node when our course ends and that is why the exhibition couldn’t be arranged at the end as usual. I think in the exhibition I can see some approaches to trauma introduced to us at our course meetings, but we students also had to draw ideas from elsewhere, because planning started so early.
It is also interesting that so many groups wanted to work with sound. Perhaps students wanted a break from everyday visual art studies.
The students of the course listening a sound piece by Katri Takkinen, Oona Heinänen & Suvi Ermilä
Mimmu, the course emphasizes process based learning and the students were encouraged to approach the exhibition as a process. Could you elaborate a little about the significance of process in terms of learning and exhibiting?
Mimmu: Process based learning and exhibiting are of course risky in regards to controlling the outcomes. However, in my view art-making is always process based – even if it does not show in the outcome or exhibition – and so is best education. The question is more about, if the artist chooses to show and exhibit also the process or just the finished piece. In learning it is more complicated, for the process is in great parts unconscious and needs a lot of reflection to uncover even some small parts of it. Making sketches and notes during the learning process enable returning to it later and aid more conscious reflective learning from distance. This is why our students have also been asked to make process diary troughout the whole course.
Jani, how would you describe the experience of creating an artwork in the framework of this course? How did you and your group address the topic of trauma?
Jani: At first my group tried to come up with a theme or a concept we would all be interested in. All of us are from different backgrounds and had quite different ideas, so coming up with theme that interested us all took some time. We finally came up with the concept of shame and decided to arrange an anonymous poll at the internet. We got honest and heartfelt answers – or confessions – from people and were really happy about that.
You have been working in the gallery space during the exhibition. What kind of teaching and learning has taken place in the exhibition?
Mimmu: We have had small group tutoring, discussions and sharing of the artworks, art-making processes and ideas behind them with the whole group. The exhibition space has enabled different kinds of encounterings between students, teachers and audience than ”normal” classroom situation. Additionally, it has enabled reflecting our subject matter trauma and our thinking around it in a wider context of art education and visual arts.
Jani: In addition to what Mimmu said, I think we students learned a lot from Mimmu and Tiina about how to approach an exhibition. We have arranged exhibitions before on different courses, but this time it was much more involved and planned – part of it is thanks to Node, I’m sure. It was interesting to try to keep the exhibition space alive during the exhibition, instead of just dumping your work there.
Salla Suonikko, Leena Marianne Pullinen & Juliana Hyrri
Jani, your group organised performances in the exhibition dealing with the topic of shame. Could you say a few words about this experience?
Jani: So, we had all these confessions from people. At first we planned to make sound art from the material but at the last moment we decided our piece was going to be a performance after all. This was because so many other groups worked with sound and there was also a need for an event in the gallery space during the exhibition. So we held our performance on two separate days.
Shame performance in the exhibition opening by Minna Lampioja , Jani Nummela, Iida Nissinen & Paavo Makkonen
What would you like to experience in Node in the future?
Mimmu: I appreciate exhibitions, which have participatory or discussive aspects like discussions with artists or artists’ presentations or lectures. Personally I find it interesting to know something of the work process or processing of ideas behind the artworks. Some prefer their art experiences ”raw” but I like to have the choice between ”not knowing” and striving to understand also other persons views.
My favorite art form both as a viewer and maker are installations.
Jani: I really got into the participatory stuff and the idea of arranging happenings or performances in the exhibition. I would also like to see huge installations or something that would change the whole space into something strange and different. Like a dark forest you could walk into.
Oleg Donner performing his art work in the opening.