A forthcoming exhibition in Helsinki will offer visitors an education grounded in disobedience and protest, equipping them with tools and ideas to challenge society’s injustices and fight for change. The School of Disobedience, which opens on September 4 at Finland’s contemporary art museum, Kiasma, is part art show, part educational institution: visitors to the museum are treated as students, receiving lessons from the more than 100 works on view or through a series of workshops with curricula that encourage civil disobedience through different media. Conceived by Finnish artist Jani Leinonen, whose own work is very critical of capitalist systems, the school intends to instill in the public — particularly young people — an urgent desire for social justice.
“For a long time I have been worried that kids around the world will take their obedient place in society and look to become successful cogs in the wheel — let the wheel spin them around as it wants without taking a look at what they’re doing,” Leinonen told Hyperallergic by email. “I’m concerned that kids become passive acceptors of the official doctrine that’s handed down to them from the politicians, the media, textbooks, teachers, and preachers.”
All the world’s problems stem from obedience, he continued, citing war, genocide, and slavery as products of such silent compliance. The school’s workshops, for which anyone may sign up — though some are apparently already reaching capacity — invite seasoned local activists to teach people how to effectively disrupt any problematic, dominant discourse. The roster of mentors includes chairwoman of the Left Youth of Finland Li Andersson, who will lecture on social movement formation; journalists Riku Rantala and Tuomas Milonoff, who will teach media criticism; political hip-hop artist Paleface discussing music as a tool for revolution; and street artist Sampsa on using social media to critique big-name corporations. All the classes will focus on social media as a key tool for mobilizing resources — which, if they didn’t, in today’s age, would be a pretty glaring oversight.
“Instead of throwing real bricks at corporate windows, we are teaching the kids to throw digital bricks,” Leinonen said. “It’s important we realize we don’t have to engage in grand, heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world. In the age of social media, it’s getting easier and easier to work collectively toward common goals.”
The accompanying exhibition is a retrospective of Leinonen’s work, which is also centered on radical activism. It will include some new projects but also videos of his previous, controversial protest art, which some may find overly reliant on shock as a device. On view, for instance, will be “Food Liberation Army” — when Leinonen made international headlines for threatening to behead a Ronald McDonald statue — and “Hunger King” — which drew attention to the Hungarian government’s poor treatment of the nation’s homeless. Sculptural works in the show will include “Death of Capitalism,” a graveyard of black granite headstones that memorialize international brands from Starbucks to Gucci. “Anything Helps,” an ongoing series exhibited at the 2009 Venice Biennale, features signs Leinonen purchased from beggars around the world and then displayed in ornate gold frames.
In the context of School of Disobedience, the artworks are displayed as successfully tested examples of “collective campaigning,” Leinonen explained, meant to encourage viewers to reenact them anywhere in the world and take up their social causes. Although he is “headmaster” and “founder” of the school, he intends for the exhibition to be inclusive, with his works existing as models for future, open-sourced forms of art. The School of Disobedience is technically his retrospective, but it is ultimately a collective endeavor between anyone aspiring to fight for a cause.
“I am a bit tired of the the art world, which is so very exclusive, even though art is very inclusive,” Leinonen said. “All we do and think comes out of interaction with others. In activism, politics, and art, to change things we don’t need individual heroes doing big things. We need movements, masses of people making small things.”
Jani Leinonen’s The School of Disobedience runs from September 4, 2015–January 31, 2016 at Kiasma (Mannerheiminaukio 2, Helsinki).
Remembering the Migrants Who Died in US Detention
Artist Jackie Amézquita will lead a caravan of trucks with the names of the deceased to LA sites representing systems of oppression and solidarity for immigrants.
Mark Thomas Gibson’s Cartoons See the US Going Nowhere
If Thomas Nast, who is considered the “Father of the American Cartoon,” has an heir, it is Gibson, who goes one step further and elevates caricature and commentary into art.
LSU School of Art Grants Highest MFA Stipends in the Southern US
With funded assistantships, full tuition waivers, and generous stipends, Louisiana State University helps students lay the groundwork for a successful lifelong art practice.
Kahori Kamiya Transmutes Grief Into Play
Through artworks that encourage viewers to explore varied vantages, Kamiya conveys her accrued wisdom and experiences without the weight of their pain.
Maya Deren in Vivid Focus
Maya Deren: Choreographed for Camera depicts how the artist’s life and ideas cemented her place as a champion and influencer of culture.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Offers Summer Art and Design Courses Online and On-Campus
Emerging and established artists can choose from over 50 Adult Continuing Education courses at one of the most influential art and design schools in the US.
AI Image Generators Finally Figured Out Hands
Midjourney fixed its inability to render hands realistically, one of the telltale signs of an image being AI-generated.
Lorraine O’Grady, Emily Jacir Among American Academy of Arts’s 2023 Awardees
Artist Faith Ringgold and scholar Helen Hennessy Vendler received this year’s gold medals.
IDSVA Offers a Non-Studio PhD in Visual Arts: Philosophy, Aesthetics, and Art Theory
With no campus, the Institute for Doctoral Studies in the Visual Arts is a truly nomadic institution, existing everywhere our students and faculty are.
MTV’s The Exhibit Needs a Cutthroat Judge
In episode three, the artists created works about the pandemic and bonded with each other, which is cute but doesn’t really make for good TV.
Cauleen Smith’s Drylongso Depicts a Bygone Oakland
Smith’s 1998 film exudes the DIY charm of a low-budget, first-time feature while keenly depicting the complexities of both race- and gender-related inequalities.
Tyler School of Art and Architecture Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibition Series
Students working in diverse disciplines explore temporality, connectedness in time and space, and global reckonings. On view in Philadelphia.
Take Ai Weiwei’s Middle Finger Anywhere in the World
A new collaboration between the artist and Avant Arte invites users to flip the bird anywhere and everywhere on Google Maps.
This week, gifted DeSantis a “fascist” snowflake, NASA’s Webb telescope captures a supernova, corporatizing London’s creativity, and much more.
I hope this travels to the South West US! Excellent! PTxS
I pray Not.
Comments are closed.