Is there something between the lines?

For us locality is an understanding that is shared based on familiarity with the situation, site and its’ particularities. It looses its definition when it iterates, and becomes an interpretation or presentation. Our perspective leans very much on the delicate balance between being familiar with something and at the same time trying to grasp something new. 

Since our gallery is in constant contact with “the street” and open to the public view it serves us as a site of observance in addition of being a site of presentation. We want to ask what is the current status of wellfare in our wellfare society? For us it is the everyday that counts. It is where the battles are fought, where you are standing up for the rights or loosing your position. In our local perspective this means a quiet observation, silent and introvert activity. For us it manifests the attitude of our wellfare society. As well as introduces the local attitude to art. We happily pay taxes so that society can take care of the people lying on the streets. Art has been ushered in to the position of monitoring, presenting and being the alarm that voices out needs, wants and aspirations. Loudly but quietly. Still maintaining isn’t the same as constructing. We chose these artists as they all highlight in their art practice the delicate balance between obedient observance and visionary exploration. 


Janne Nabb & Maria Teeri 

Janne Nabb and Maria Teeri is an artist couple that examines with detail the structure of our present layers of artifacts that we are surrounded with. They pile as well as dissemble the multitude, with images, installations and objects that move beyond what they are. They are explorers inside the realm of materials that form our surroundings. Their work touches the vacuumed inertia of excess.


Terminal, eyeglass display stands, lamps from an architect's office, acrylic board, damaged sculpture packed in a storage cage on casters, surveillance camera, digital video (7 min, 6 s, loop). Installation view Tampere Art Museum, Tampere, FI, 2014


Rubbish video, video installation, 2014


Table of contents, water colour on paper, sound 46 paintings and soundtracks. The Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma collections installation view Kluuvi gallery, Helsinki, FI, 2011


Indications of spring, found objects in framing, elastic band, table, fluorescent lamp, straps, plate stands, stepladder, digital video (26 min, 5 s, loop) Helsinki Art Museum collections. Installation view Galerie Anhava, Helsinki, FI, 2012


The Drowned Giant, intervention


Thingness, installation view, Poriginal Galleria, Pori, FI, 2013



Anikó Kuikka

Anikó Kuikka uses almost mythological imaginery in her moving image installations that are composed of visual language depicting something in our experience of the everyday life that looses its grasp in an overimposed fascinating way. We selected her based on her ability to use “remote closeness” in creating works that lingers upon the artifice of the lived experience.


Sunday, 3-channel moving image installation, 24 min loop, 2014


Herstory, single channel moving image installation, 7 min, 2012


Herstory, single channel moving image installation, 7 min, 2012


Chatroom, 2-channel moving image installation, 4 min loop, 2012


C, single-channel moving image installation, 2:10 min loop, 2012


Holy Matrimony, 2-channel moving image installation, 3 min, 2011


Real women, 1 & 3-channel, 7:30 min, 2011



Tatu Engeström

Tatu Engeström represents the line of young socially and politically aware artists that base their artistic practice into concepts, ideas and information rather than aesthetics or emotional impact. Engeström's art is inseparably urban – it evades the conventions of Finnish naturalism, the forests and the melancholy. Engeström's art is very much based on the notions of public space. Having a background in street culture – notably in skate boarding – creates a certain kind of sensibility enabling Engeström to move in between what is private and what is public as an observer, active participant or even intruder. Similarly, Engeström considers the museum or gallery institution as a context that works as a stage for participation, negotiation and the mirroring of society's morals and values.


Display, installation of a private home in a public space display window, 2013


Display, vernissage, 2013


Spaces in Between, digitally manipulated photographs of Thai massage parlor store fronts,  2012


Spaces in Between, installation shot, 2012


The Flag Desecration, video interview, 2012


Tatu Engeström & Sakari Tervo: Facade, intervention in the Roma camp at Kalasatama in Helsinki, 2009



Miina Hujala and Arttu Merimaa

Miina Hujala and Arttu Merimaa are visual artists who have been working together in collaborative projects since the year 2005. Their curatorial work focuses on artist initiative based activities, collegial working methods and short-termed working sessions that examine the conditions of art production. They find it interesting to create opportunities to critically observe art as a profession and it's connections to social and political issues. By launching and forming places and platforms to discuss, share, criticize and react, they're curatorial practice is focused on enabling and structuring artists' work and actively positioning the artists and their practice within other roles present in contemporary society.


Alkovi Gallery

Alkovi Gallery is a site-specific public art space located in the Kallio district in Helsinki, Finland. The gallery was founded by artist Otto Karvonen in 2005 and for the year of 2008 it was temporary used by the Contemporary Art Museum Kiasma. Artists Arttu Merimaa and Miina Hujala took over the gallery in 2009. In addition to exhibitions and video screenings its activity also includes workshops and collaborative projects. Alkovi invites artists to make artworks and plan exhibitions specifically considering the characteristics of the gallery’s display window space and its location in the public realm as well as its socio-political and urban connections.

30 June 2017 / by / in
Of Nature and Men

Questions on environmental and economical future, at both local and global levels have been discussed almost to the point of exhaustion, yet there is still a gulf between promblem and solution. I have chosen to represent two artists, sculptor Jouna Karsi and photographer Ilkka Halso, along with a cross-diciplinary artist collective Mustarinda, who all in their artistic pratice comment critically on the contrast between the urban and natural environments in Finland and beyond. 

Nordic nature and the perceptions of it are a common frame to all of these artists and their practices. Nature and forests have been at the centre of establishing the national project of Finland since the turn of the 20th Century. Not only culturally, but also economically Finland has been closely tied to forests and forestry. However, Karsi, Halso and Mustarinda members are not stuck with cultural stereotypes but bring the discussion on nature into a global context. Thematically they comment on subjects such as climate change, natural resources, consumerism, capitalism and urban planning.

In Karsi's sculptings and Halso's photographs the contemporary, urban world collides with nature in a visually mesmerizing and thought-provoking way. Their work focuses on man-made structures, devoid of a human presense. Karsi and Halso's scenes share a common feeling of isolation, providing almost apocalyptic glimpses at what the future could look like.

Mustarinda is a collective and an organisation that runs Mustarinda house in North-Eastern Finland. Mustarinda brings a fresh and critical voice to the discussion of ecological and cultural diversity. Mustarinda's activities are based on combining art, research and education from different disciplines. They also have a very practical take on local cultural and political planning, and are, for example, participating in developing regional nature protection and nature tourism.


Jouna Karsi

Jouna Karsi is a visual artist based in Turku, Finland. In his artistic practice Karsi combines sculpting, painting and video, working mainly with delicate, miniature sized installations and mirror cubes. Karsi portrays urban landscapes and constructions, such as suburbs, warehouses or city scenes.




Labyrinth II


Karsi's works are carefully crafted, often using perishable, earthy materials, like moss or branches. Each individual art work adds to the world Karsi is creating, a surrealist world which resembles our own but upon closer inspection somehow seems out of place. Karsi's sculptings and installations are thematically multi-layered, they may comment sharply on climate change one moment while lightly flirting with popular culture the next.


Garden II




”The reoccurring element in my sculptures is the absence of a human figure. My works carry the same feeling of a photograph taken with a long exposure time, that cannot capture a rapidly moving subject. The mirror cubes I mainly work with, are based on the idea of creating two-dimensional images out of three-dimensional forms. The mirror cube is simultaneously both a sculptural object and a vessel to enter the scene I've constructed inside the cube. The scenes within the cubes reflect the depths of our mental landscape by multiplying images from history, nature and technology.”






Ilkka Halso

In Halso's photographs nature has been completely reduced to human purposes only. Technological developments and urban building have conquered the space from nature. The aesthetics of Halso's photographs is based on careful editing that pays attention to detail. The photographs are at the same time realistic yet fantastic, and leave you entangled in a feeling somewhere between beauty and absurdity. Ilkka Halso is based in Orimattila, Finland. His work has been vastly exhibited Finland and abroad, most recently in Helsinki Photography Biennial in Spring 2014.


Boulder Corridor, 2011


Broken tree, 2012


“My work deals with people’s ambivalent relation to nature. It’s typical for human beings to mould nature, justifying their actions with their aesthetic and economic aspirations. But nature can’t endure everything. In my photographs, control over nature has acquired a concrete form. The elements of nature have been rethought and have, for logistical purposes, been packed into modules that are easier to handle.


Container depot, 2014


House with Garden – Unique opportunity, 2011


The whole of nature is stored in a gigantic warehouse complex and the most common types of nature, from soil and flora to fauna can be easily assembled into working ecosystems. What’s happening? Has nature been evacuated to await better times, or has it been simplified into merchandise and absurd tableaux? I’m looking into the future. I don’t like what I see.”


Island Cove, 2013


Main Corridor – North, 2013


Roundabout, 2011



“Mustarinda is a non-profit organization founded in 2009 in Finland to foster ecological and cultural diversity and the status of different disciplines of art and science, especially contemporary art. Mustarinda investigates the cultural and socio-economical structures of society, largely dominated by different aspects of the ecological crisis. Already during the first years hundreds of artists and researchers have taken part in the residency program and in the variety of events and exhibitions organized by Mustarinda.

The Mustarinda Association was established as we became worried about decreasing ecological and cultural diversity all over the world. The members of the association represent a variety of societal sectors such as law, political science, economics, the majority however working in the field of contemporary arts.

The core activities of the association consist of independent and critical art, research, and education. The activity is centred in Mustarinda House, which is located next to the Paljakka Nature Reserve in the Kainuu region. There are facilities for artists/researchers-in-residence as well as art exhibitions and different types of events. The surrounding old-growth forests offer a rare opportunity for observing nature’s own form of language, structure and operation. It provides a wealth of topics of interest for researchers and artists alike, and we support an exchange of ideas between these two groups. In addition, the association develops  regional nature protection, nature tourism, and culture.

In addition to the members running the association and main activities at the house, there are numerous groups and individuals who have contributed to the activity and operation of Mustarinda since the beginning. Recent Mustarinda activities include Off the Grid-energy project, Mustarinda Garden, annual summer exhibition at Mustarinda house, Helsinki Photography Biennial, taking part in Focus Finland Madrid.”

Find out more about Mustarinda

Mustarinda Garden

Mustarinda annual publication

Mustarinda exhibitions

Frontiers in Retreat Project (2013-2018)


Mustarinda house and Mustarinda Garden, project initiated by Pauliina Leikas.



Annukka Vähäsöyrinki 

Annukka Vähäsöyrinki is the director for artists' association Arte in Turku, Finland. Arte runs contemporary art gallery Titanik and Titanik A.i.R. residency programme for international sound artists. Vähäsöyrinki also works as a freelance producer. Her current projects include Sculptor 2015 exhibition, fascilitated by the Association of Finnish Sculptors, and cross-diciplinary artist collective Anna Breu's exhibitions and  performances. In 2014 Anna Breu will be performing as part of Manifesta10 Biennial of Contemporary Art in St. Petersburg, among others.

Vähäsöyrinki's background is in literature research, though currently she is doing another MA in Visual Culture at Aalto School of Arts and Design in Helsinki. Vähäsöyrinki's main interests lie in art mediating and managment. She has been working within art export, focusing in literature, co-developing the first ever non-profit literature export agency in Finland, Burning Bridge.



Arte is an artists' association founded in 1960 by visual artists based in Turku, Finland. Today Arte’s membership is open for all visual art professionals, such as artists, curators, researchers, producers and art critics. The number of members has risen up to one hundred over the past decades.

The association is best known for running an independent and experimental contemporary art gallery, Titanik, founded in 1988. Along with exhibitions Arte also fascilitates international Titanik A.i.R. residency programme, that focuses specifically on sound art during 2013-2015.

Arte plays an active role in local cultural policy, promoting the status of art professionals on a regional and national level.

30 June 2017 / by / in
Sincere Something

One often assumes that a “genuine” experience of any particular locality, the “local” experience, is what can be identified as sincere or specific to that place. The “sincere” is assumed to be the “personal”. The “local” is assumed to be the uninhibited. But all this is based on particular forms for expressions of sincerity and we use these to orient ourselves. In truth sincerity is a fluid and intangible matter, so how can we ever use it to define a point on a map? Jenni Markkanen, Vibes and Tuomo Tuovinen each act as guides in this sense – offering vibrant glimpses into their personal search for the sincere and, thus in turn helping us locate ourselves in relation to their processes. 

In Finnish language sincerity does not translate to one but is described with several words: earnestness, honesty and transparency, immediacy. Finnish language Wikipedia thread on the subject does not exist online. Unlike with the assumed Latin origin of the word – sincerus, meaning clean, pure, sound (1525–35)* – there’s nothing in the Finnish translations of the word that connects sincerity to purity or cleanliness other than the word transparency. And we are crazy about transparency: see the annual Corruption Perceptions Index data by Transparency International.

I dare to state that in my lukewarm western culture sincerity is commonly assumed as a constructed social ideal. Sincerity is something too romantic, something emo and uncertain, wobbly naivety and maybe even deceitful. How would we know if someone acts alone the same way when in the presence of others?

Sorbus Gallery recommends the following artists and artist group because their work gives us an experience of a sincere…something. Maybe we’ll never exactly know what that something is, but that is what makes them stick with us.

*Source: The Oxford English Dictionary


Jenni Markkanen

Jenni Markkanen looks at you directly, earnestly, honestly from the screen. This is a storyteller. Looking you in the eye Markkanen makes both her working process and motives transparent. This allows the viewer to simultaneously be aware that they are looking at an art work and be touched and carried away by it. Though she may be looking out as a performed character there is no question it is Markkanen speaking her personal truths. There can be a piercing earnestness that is nearly heartbreaking. Sincerity and its expressions is an essential medium in Markkanen’s work. She is questioning how to express and how to receive expressions of sincerity, sinking her hands into the pot of sticky, warm goo of deep feeling and seeing what she pulls up.

Markkanen says about the work Rabbit Called White (Jänis nimeltä Valkoinen) (2014) “By combining the content of the story, the traditional style of good moral fairy tale and the unprofessionally trained touch of the performer’s act, the performance strongly evokes the idea of ironical intention. However, by never reaching the ironical sense, the work estranges itself into an opposite level, reflecting the idea of pure sincerity.” It is saccharin, but not abjectly so, and reminds one of the essential process of placing yourself, as a youngster in bed at story time, in relation to the world; contextualizing your life experiences, through fictional stories. At that young age these stories were as real as anything else despite our awareness of fiction. Maybe they can still be so.

She says goodbye to her recent cast of characters in Creation Of A Character (Hahmon synty) (2014), performed and created at Sorbus Gallery. She explains that each character from the last few years has emerged from a part of herself and a need of herself, embodying both. She says the experiences she has had as these characters is the greatest truth she knows. She says all this live, in front of a camera, during a series of single-take performances (the videos of which are screened in the gallery the following day until the next evening performance). I get the impression that it is when performing that she can be most sincere, and we, the audience, who she loves, can have the most sincere experience of Jenni Markkanen. And this is the goal; the utopia; the saccharin, uncomfortable, but necessary result. And who is the next character? The character she seeks at the end of this work? Not to spoil the end I’ll just say Markkanen boldly faces both herself and the cliches of artist self discovery with no fear, speaking whatever comes to mind and finding her own truth within it.


Video still from Creation of a Character (2014), Jenni Markkanen


Video still from Frame (2013), Jenni Markkanen




Vibes is a total, perennial piece consisting of one-off performances, situations and gatherings. Its key characteristics are commitment, spontaneity and constant change.

This summer the collective Vibes ran a health centre (Hoitola) in Sorbus Gallery in Helsinki. During the ten days the health centre welcomed people to wake up at the sunrise and join their daily morning jog after the morning meditation session at 4.15. During the ten days people were writing grant applications, making energy objects from clay and were guided thru a sitting meditation to focus on inner and outer vibes. During the ten days some in Helsinki woke up early. During the ten days a group of actors would read your first play for you and others would listen. During the ten days the receivers of a noise therapy were swaddled in sheets.

After the ten days your hands were soft and tender (They did indeed also give you hand treatments). After the ten days the air was still cold although it was summer in Helsinki. It wasn’t the sixties but 2014 and when Hoitola at the end closed its doors you were leaving behind a mindset, a place where things once felt suddenly weirdly possible and reassuring. For ten days we were more hospitable than hostile and then returned back home (hoping) to get more of it from (watching) Grey’s Anatomy. 

Vibes has, among other things, practiced collective playwriting and meditation. It has taken the shape of a healing centre and brought about surprising social situations. Events have been held at, among others, in galleries, theaters, festivals and private apartments in Finland.

Vibes (2012–) is a collective consisting of Ville Ahonen, Laura Birn, Anna-Mari Karvonen, Anni Puolakka, Ville Seppänen, Heidi Soidinsalo, Masi Tiitta and their friends.



Image from EU, 5 hour performance at Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum, Helsinki (2014) by Ville Ahonen, Laura Birn, Dakota, Dxxxa D, Johannes Ekholm, Masha, Anna-Mari Karvonen, Ruut Kuittinen, Samuli Niittymäki, Jaakko Pallasvuo, Pietari Peltola, Anni Puolakka, Ville Seppänen and Heidi Soidinsalo


Still image from 'Metsän hiljaisuuteen' ('To the Silence of the Forest', 2014)



Tuomo Tuovinen

Tuovinen’s work makes me think, well, what the hell else do I need in life? Not in a romantic, overly stereotypical zen-ish epiphany of “All I need is already before me” sort of way, but so often in his work he places what is already in front of me in front of me again. And what could be more sincere than that? It is not an act of simplification nor of complication, but a placing again, without pretense. His work does so in a way that communicates that this (whatever it happens to be) is something he believes in and wants to show you. That is a lot.

As an organizer of Sorbus Gallery, Tuovinen is empathetic and direct at the same time, lending the space the same sort of calm “I believe in this and want to show you”. This is freeing, exciting and sincere. As each exhibiting individual comes from a different personal space sincerity becomes an exchange and a conversation and, now and then, an act or form of sincerity happens.

In his recent Taideskole/The Art School Tuovinen places the text description of the goals of the institution and resources provided students by the University of the Arts Helsinki (specifically the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts), taken straight from University documents, in front of a fluidly composed enactment of one student’s experience of the institution. It ends with Tuovinen confessing his own struggle and realization regarding how and why he wants to make art. Decide for yourself the degree of irony with which he states “From my years in the Art School I have gained the ability to encounter the world as it is. I have found the artist I dreamt of when I was five years old in me.” These last words paired with the inspired piano solo communicate a powerful sincere something.

Tuovinen writes about his own practice:

My work is often based on collaboration with other people and connection to people is important for me in general. I worry about art getting too estranged from the experience world of you and me.           

I want to sing. Singers are able to give something to people just by being present as themselves. In my works I often create some sort of a setting and then bring in a person or a group of people, sometimes myself. The things that come up when people interact with the setting then make the artwork.

Making music videos is a way for me to collaborate with musicians and other artists, and make art that has the potential of reaching people outside the art world.

I try to find meaning in living in the contemporary world and to take part in it. Maybe utopia can happen only in the present.


Documentation gif from performance at Kasarmikatu Gallery, Helsinki (2013), Tuomo Tuovinen


Image from Taideskole/The Art School (2014), Tuomo Tuovinen.



Sorbus Gallery

Sorbus Gallery is an artist run gallery located in the Kallio neighborhood of Helsinki, Finland. Sorbus opened in January 2013 and has since hosted exhibitions, performances, concerts and happenings from different art fields. The gallery tries to remain impulsive and adaptable to a variety of exhibition lengths and formats. We have found that a quick-on-their-feet space is a necessary alternative within a regional arts community that is dominated by galleries that require applications and proposals at least one year in advance of any exhibition. This format allows us to curate experiments, projects critical of more immediate issues and impulses within our peer community. We do not consider ourselves a project space per se, rather an intuitively and organically run exhibition space.

Our non-profit gallery is run and curated by a core artist working group:

Otto Byström

Henna Hyvärinen

Jonna Karanka

Megan Snowe

Sakari Tervo

Tuomo Tuovinen


Artists, artist groups and musicians who have most recently exhibited or performed at Sorbus:

Dress-mann (SE)

Lau Nau (FI)

Brenna Murphy (US)

Jan Anderzen & Lars Mattila (FI)

Anna Rokka (FI)

Long-Sam (FI)

H&M (FI & US)

Antti Korkeila & Saara Piispa (FI)

Angela Washko (US)

Jari Kallio & Antti Jussila (FI)

Laura Jantunen (FI)

Jaakko Pallasvuo (FI)

30 June 2017 / by / in