The Henna and Pertti Niemistö Art Foundation was established in 1990. The Foundation promotes the visual arts and opens up new avenues for Finnish art in the international arena. The Foundation awards the ARS FENNICA prize to artists in recognition of distinctive creative work of exceptional quality.
The prizewinner is chosen in two phases. An award panel appointed by the Foundation selects the candidates, after which an international art expert invited by the award panel chooses the winner from among the candidates. The award is worth €40,000 and includes an exhibition and an e-book.
The Henna and Pertti Niemistö Art Foundation Ars Fennica takes great pleasure in presenting Blackout, an exhibition showcasing the work of 2015 Ars Fennica prizewinner Mika Taanila at the Hämeenlinna Art Museum from October 30, 2015 to March 6, 2016.
Mika Taanila is a Finnish filmmaker and contemporary artist whose wide-ranging oeuvre falls in a zone between documentary, experimental film and visual art. His art skirts the boundaries between reality and fiction, delving into topics such as utopian visions, the role of technology in modern society and the relationship between humans and machines. Memory and misremembering emerge as new focal themes in Blackout.
The Ars Fennica Award granted by the Henna and Pertti Niemistö Art Foundation is the richest art award in the Nordic countries. The Foundation’s mission is to increase the visibility of the visual arts, provide incentive to art practitioners and offer them opportunities to expand their international contacts. As part of this work, the Foundation grants the annual Ars Fennica Award, hosts an exhibition featuring the winning artist’s and publishes an accompanying catalogue. The award is conferred in recognition of high standards of creative originality and artistic excellence.
Candidates for the Ars Fennica Award are nominated by an appointed Award Panel, but the winner is selected by a recognized international expert. This year’s winner was chosen by museum director and curator Charles Esche, who announced his decision after an in-depth review of each candidate and their work.
I would like to extend my personal thanks to all those involved in producing the Ars Fennica 2015 exhibition and its accompanying publications. A special word of thanks is deserved by Professor Erkki Huhtamo for the expansive insights and expert article he contributed to the catalogue.
My warmest thanks naturally go to the artist. We cordially invite everyone to come and enjoy the unique art of Mika Taanila!
Chair of the Award Panel
Mika Taanila’s works are the most convincing of all the candidates for their full realization of his ideas. He has worked with extraordinary commitment, as well as political and social awareness, to produce video works that are both documents of a time and place and expressive vehicles for ideas about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ society. Mika tackles some of the fundamental questions in a social democratic European society in terms of conformism, tolerance and the power of the state. He does so in ways that are never rhetorical or abstract but concrete and particular. Through his work, viewers have the opportunity to observe how society comes to its collective opinions and why that matters.
It has been a hard choice to make as all the candidates have particular qualities and reasons why it would make sense to ward them the prize. In the end, however, I have chosen to award the ARS FENNICA to the artist who in my opinion has the most fully developed body of work in which the intentions of the works have been brought closest to realization. For that ultimately overriding reason, I would like to award the prize to Mika Taanila.