XXI Mänttä Art Festival

So I visited Mänttä this weekend – and the trip was awesome! This year’s festival is a must-see for any fan of contemporary art.

The Mänttä Art Festival was first arranged in 1993. A biennial event during the early years, the festival has been arranged annually since 1999, and his year’s festival, “Kommandona”, or “Going Commando”, has been curated by the Finnish artist Anssi Kasitonni. Our excursion to Mänttä, located in central Finland, was arranged by the two fabulous ladies of Tabulaland, Saara Konttinen and Aiju Salminen.

Tabulaland is an art gallery and an art shop online, founded two years ago by Konttinen and Salminen.

Our tour group comprised of 35 art enthusiasts. We got on the bus from Helsinki yesterday early in the morning, and arrived in Mänttä around noon. After lunch, it was time for us to take on the exhibition at Pekilo, an old forage factory.

Upon entering the exhibition, one could spot two female artists with mixed media works right at the entrance. Riikka Hyvönen’s fresh roller derby works consisting of leather and aerosol paint were being displayed next to the ticket counter, along with Kristen Liu-Wong’s Asia-inspired illustrations.

In the main hall, another two female artists were dominating – Kaija Papu’s PI541, a crocheted police car, was looming on the background while Anja Salonen’s Sneeze stole my immediate attention. Kalle Mustonen’s giant installation of a wooden garden gnome was laying on the floor motionless, while the sculptor Laura Könönen’s Rinki, consisting of a diorite punching bag weighing 500 kg and a platform – an absolute masterpiece – seemed to highlight the fact that this exhibition is a feast of the heavyweight Finnish contemporary artists.

Getting up the stairs, one immediately faced Tommi Musturi’s The Changed Local Landscape installation. The Hollywood artist Lucy Liu’s works were being displayed in this floor. The three works by Liu, to me, seemed to form a contrast to the rest of the exhibition. I wonder if Kasitonni really had a dream of Liu doing contemporary art like he said in an interview, or if including these works was an intentional pun.

The rest of the exhibition was excellent as well, but no more spoilers! You definitely have to experience it yourselves.

The festival goes on for another 1,5 months, until the 31st of August.

I can only highy recommend travelling to Mänttä this summer.

Visit the Mänttä Art Festival website: http://kuvataideviikot.fi/

The Tabulaland Art Store online: http://www.tabulaland.com/

Author: Iiris Konttinen

I am a digital service design and digital marketing professional based in Helsinki, Finland.