In her exhibition Lenin in Aurakatu Street Minna L. Henriksson (b. 1976) investigates the V. I. Lenin (1870–1924) monuments in Finland and particularly their historical phases and people’s attitudes towards them. A bronze bust of Lenin by Mikhail Anikushin (1917–1997) stands in Aurakatu Street near the Turku Art Museum. Unveiled in 1977, it was a gift from the City of Leningrad to the City of Turku. Consisting of documentary material, Henriksson’s exhibition examines issues ranging from the politics of sculpture to popular reactions to public sculptures.
The installation in the Studio consists of ‘talking heads’ in TV monitors, framed to resemble busts. Aimo Minkkinen, director of the Lenin Museum in Tampere, talks about Lenin’s activities in Finland, particularly in Turku, and about monuments to Lenin in Finland and abroad. He also talks about the phenomenon of ‘Finlandisation’ in the 1970s, as does another ‘talking head’, Kari Immonen, emeritus professor of cultural history at the University of Turku. Curator Riitta Kormano and researcher Tatiana Tolonen from the Turku Museum Centre talk about the history of the Lenin monument in Turku, and about the city’s sculpture policy in general. Also featured in the videos are the May Day festivities of student societies that traditionally take place at the foot of monuments. The subject societies of philosophy and political science from the University of Turku convene on the eve of May Day at the Lenin monument. A sculpture project for the Lenin Park in the district of Alppila in Helsinki sparked off a lively public debate in 1999, and again in 2007, regarding the need for a sculpture of Lenin in the park. In Henriksson’s exhibition, this issue is discussed at length by grassroot activist Ritva Hartzell from Helsinki. In addition to interviews, the exhibition also includes press clippings from the past decades and photographs.
The history of sculptures and buildings is constantly being rewritten. Sculptures associated with historical events and people have been unveiled also in 2012, and they too have inspired public debate in Turku (Jan-Erik Andersson, Pehr Kalm Revival, Andrei Kovalchuk, A Meeting in Turku in 1812, and Laila Pullinen, Ikaros).
Through Lenin in Aurakatu Street, Minna L. Henriksson examines the history of Finland and the current political climate using public sculptures and cultural policy in Finland as the vantage point. What has the political climate in Finland been like over the past decades? How has the Finnish identity been perceived? What emotions are associated with public sculptures? What do people think about sculptures in their everyday environment?
Minna L. Henriksson graduated with a BA in Fine Art Painting from the University of Brighton in 1999, and with an MA from the Time&Space Department at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2004. She completed the Critical Studies postgraduate course at the Malmö Art Academy in Sweden in 2006. Henriksson has worked as a residence artist in several cities in the Balkans. In 2005, she drew a map, based on second-hand information, that depicted the connections between people and institutions in the art world in Istanbul. She has since created similar maps of Zagreb (2006), Ljubljana (2008), Belgrade (2009), and lastly of her home town, Helsinki (2009).
ARTIST’S TALK: On Saturday 17 November 2012 starting at 2 pm, Minna L. Henriksson will present her exhibition Lenin in Aurakatu Street to the audience and tell about her artistic practice in the Turku Art Museum Studio.
The exhibition has been supported by the Arts Council of Finland.