In the Nordic countries, where societies lack awareness of their colonial past and the effect it has on everyday life, the presence of people of colour is a manifestation of resistance. The lack of representation has led us, today’s PoC (Person of Color) generation, to take and create space by owning our own stories, from our own perspectives. The winds of change are blowing through the Nordic countries as we approach topics from decolonial perspectives, expressed and applied through various forms for change in society.
The Winds of is an exhibition dealing with the everyday lives of people of colour, as resistance in a post-colonial society, through photography, video and sculpture. Nayab Ikram and Ramina Habibollah are curators of the exhibtion, and the artists are Baran Caginli, Jeannette Ehlers, Uwa Iduozee ja Mi Tjio.
Nayab Ikram and Ramina Habibollah
Project Space, The Finnish Museum of Photography
Baran Caginli (b.1990, Istanbul)
is a Helsinki-based artist. The framework of his practice relates to issues
such as systematic repression, extermination, disappearance, amnesia, ethnic
discrimination, state power, forced migrations, and forced disappearances, but at
the same time re-appearance, collective memory, and the state’s contradictions.
Most of the people and objects he has included in his works are in the position
of witnessing an incident. Although the witnesses belong to local problems and
realities, they also refer to problems and witnesses in other geopolitical
Who Were They? is a photograph of the children of Sur, who lost their
families and friends and were forced to move from their homes because of the
curfew that was announced in Amed (Diyarbakir), Sur County, in December 2015.
By obscuring the children's faces with fingerprints, Baran Caginli’s intervention meant to turn them into geographical
subjects rather than a symbol of disidentification. Even though the text on the
wall, ‘Yurtsever Devrimci Gençlik Hareketi’ (The Patriotic Revolutionary Youth
Movement), was written by the youth of Caginli’s
generation who chose to fight, the children chose to pose in front of
the text, which became a symbol of their future. To have lived through the same
losses as the children, as a Kurdish artist who was forced to migrate, the workWho Were They? is the untaken
childhood photograph of Caginli’s generation;
the current and future photograph of an endless war, pain and anger.
Kurkut is a work about Kemal Kurkut, a music student who was murdered by
the police at the age of 23, at the entrance to the Newroz celebration in Amed
(Diyarbakir). Immediately afterwards, all the television channels broadcast
breaking news that the police had killed a suicide bomber trying to enter the
celebration area. Journalist Abdurrahman Gök photographed the whole incident
when Kurkut was shot. When the photos were given to the media, the police made
an informal statement that Kurkut was not a suicide bomber, but a terrorist
carrying the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party) flag,
and therefore he was shot. When the flag was not found, the police claimed that
he had attacked them with a knife. In the end, the government silenced the
media about Kurkut’s case, and the investigation into his case ended in a confidentiality
order. Kurkut was body-searched by the police and his clothes were removed,
with no proof of explosives on him and no proof of him attacking the police. The
question still remains: why was Kemal Kurkut killed?
This book is the story of Kemal Kurkut; the story that
some of us don’t want to forget and some of us don’t want to know. A photo
taken a few seconds before he was killed was converted into a font, re-writing
his forbidden story. A hundred editions of the book were put into public
libraries through Baran Caginli’s
guerrilla action. This intervention gives people the possibility to encounter
the book in libraries by finding the name KURKUT on the back of the book, and to
learn about Kurkut’s real story. It reminds people of the censored stories of
children and youth murdered by the state.
Jeannette Ehlers (b.1973,
Holstebro) is a video, photo and performance artist based in Copenhagen.
Experimental imagery characterises her multidisciplinary work, and for years
she has created artworks that engage with resistance to colonialism. In these
changeable terms, meaning and identity are explored, in both a sophisticated
and an immediate way. Her performative and cinematic universes delve into
ethnicity and identity, inspired by her own Danish and Caribbean background.
Ehlers insists on the possibility of empowerment and healing in her art, honouring
the legacies of resistance in the African diaspora. She merges the historical,
the collective and the rebellious with the familial, the bodily and the poetic.
Black Bullets was recorded at the fortress on the mountaintop, the Citadelle
Laferrière in Haiti, which was built after the revolution as a defensive
measure for the new state, by King Henry Christophe, who was one of the key
leaders during the Haitian Revolution (1791–1804). To this day, the citadel
stands as a symbol of emancipation and of liberty. A series of black figures
move in a looping sequence across the silvery sky, to the pulse of a heavy,
hypnotic drone-like sound. The subjects are united with their reflected images,
merging with them, almost like bullets gradually being cast. The piece is a
tribute to the act of revolt.
Mi Tjio (b.1984) is a Stockholm-based
artist of Chinese heritage, born and raised in the south of Sweden. Symbols and humour are elements
often used in her work to explore societal structures and personal life events.
Her kitsch, fluent, and sometimes absurd imagery and style span sculpture,
photographic collages and textile craft. Tjio’s early work began as sculptural
and material research, which has developed into becoming a creative process
starting from personal reflections as a way of journal writing.
sculpture Untitled explores three-dimensional form through the simple
material of unbleached woven cotton fabric. Tjio wanted to use a material whose
inherent quality is flatness, and to use it to create as much form as possible.
By conjoining two contradictory elements, form and flatness, she experimented with
how far she could use cotton fabric to create form without adding additional
material. Through her explorations, braiding became an integral part of connecting
the fabric pieces together to achieve both stability and form. In the process of braiding the sculpture together, Tjio was
reminded of the time when she learned how to braid her own hair. There are
various cultural significances in the braids themselves and in the act of
Uwa Iduozee (b.1987,
Helsinki) is a Finnish-Nigerian photographer and documentary filmmaker. Iduozee
aims to expand the ways in which we understand blackness by challenging the
traditional framework of its visual representation and by telling the stories
of people who, in many cases, are ignored. The central themes of his work
revolve around questions of identity and belonging. In order to deconstruct
stereotypes, it is vital to understand the importance of how narratives have
shaped our understanding of reality, and how they can be re-envisioned to
create a platform for the people whose lives have been affected by reductive
methods of representation.
regarding black people in Finland is often limited in its scope and lacks
understanding of how long black people have lived in this country and the ways
in which we have helped mould it into the place it is today. The people
photographed for this project arrived in Finland starting from the 1950s and
represent our parents’ generation. This is a story about first generation Afro-Finns,
the trailblazers; about who they were, who they have become, and the ways in
which they have influenced their new home - a home that wasn’t always the
paradise it was described as being. Thank you for your fearlessness, your
dreams, and the sacrifices you made for those that came after you. For us.
They Walked on Water is a collaborative project
between the photographer Uwa Iduozee and the writer Maryan Abdulkarim, and it was
realised with support from the Kone Foundation and the Finnish Cultural
Foundation. The pictures are part of a larger ongoing project
Nayab Ikram (b.1992,
Mariehamn) and Ramina Habibollah (b.1992, Tehran) are a Finnish-Asian
curatorial duo. In their curatorial practice, they aim to create a dialogue
between the Finnish and the Nordic art sphere by working with artists of
colour. Working through the method and perspective of
the intersectional feminist, they are challenging the norms
of the cultural politics in Finland to be more inclusive and representative.