Azar Saiyar: History Bleeds Under Your Fingernails, 2017 / Video-still


Politics of Care is a thematically structured online exhibition presenting nine video works from HAM's extensive media art collection. With the global coronavirus pandemic having upended life as we know it, new light has been shed on the importance of care, both societally and in our personal relationships.

Care, which is key for upholding our society, is not only limited to interpersonal relationships – sustaining life also requires constant interaction with the environment. When looked at this way, care is a part of a web of interdependency that has grown increasingly and visibly fragile, in part due to the impact of climate change.

The works selected for the Politics of Care exhibition can be seen through such a concept of care: as relationships between an individual and their community and the surrounding world. Care is not only about kindness and positive emotions. Someone must take care of the things we expunge from our daily lives, such as waste, filth, suffering and death. The need to be cared for is a source of inequality: care is a way of exercising power that defines who deviates from the norm and who is marginalised. Category-based, efficiency-driven care is an enabler of structural violence, social exclusion, and the relegation of certain groups to invisibility.

The works highlight the themes of care in different ways. The protagonist in Aarne's Window (2016) by Pasi Autio gazes out of the window as the seasons and weather change behind the pane. His inner monologue highlights how people living in isolation crave contact with the outside world. The temporary arrangements necessitated by the pandemic have brought to light the reality of what already constituted the pre-crisis normal for many people.

In Practical Ecology (2017) by Minna Suoniemi, the protagonist presents various items he has repaired and upcycled. Salvaging and recovering old materials is more than a matter of thrift – it reflects an understanding of how the material world extends beyond our physical bodies. The objects modified in the installation also carry reminders of relationships with other people. Fluctuation Theme by Jani Ruscica is a part of the Contrapuntal trilogy(2005). It shows a group of people singing as they wander through terrain that is undergoing radical excavation and construction, as if trying to convey some kind of a message to the landscape. Care is fundamental to building a fairer, more equitable society, and it is also the bond that permeates the relationship between different species.

The other artists featured in the online exhibition are Alli Savolainen, Jenni Eskola, Azar Saiyar, Maria Duncker, Tuulia Susiaho and Maria Ylikoski. Through their works, you can think about questions on care in relation to family, the environment or education, among other themes. Seeing care as a part of our physical and mental wellbeing positions it in the centre of political activity.

The total duration of the compilation, consisting of nine media works, is 45 minutes.

Works included in the Politics of Care online exhibition are: Pasi Autio, Aarne's Window, 2016; Alli Savolainen, 6 Minutes, 8 Pictures, 2001; Jenni Eskola, Contour, 2017; Azar Saiyar, History Bleeds Under Your Fingernails, 2017; Jani Ruscica, Contrapuntal / Fluctuation Theme, 2005; Minna Suoniemi, Practical Ecology, 2017; Maria Duncker, One in a Million, 2005; Tuulia Susiaho, The Empty Head of Alice, 2006; Maria Ylikoski, And No Swinging!, 1998.

The exhibition has been curated by HAM Curator Petronella Grönroos.

Source: Helsinki City department of Culture and Leisure