Minä, Marxilainen taiteilija [Me, a Marxist Artists] (2021) by Jyrki Siukonen is an elegant book, its written like a journal and assumes the reader to be well informed. The book reveals an absence of Marxist or Communist theories on aesthetics and depicts intricate political debates where Finnish artists and cultural workers of the 70ties attempted piece together a plan for a leftists artistic program. Marx was bad at art and their theories on production/commodities do not apply to cultural production. Similarly a Marxist depiction of historical progress fails in understanding the intricacies of style (that it does not “progress” but fluctuates). Siukonen reveals that artistic research in Finland is rooted on efforts to make sense of art production, by evaluating an artists responsibilities for society and the particularities of their praxis. Siukonen offers a striking analysis on the utopian function of socialist realism: In actuality communism in the Soviet Union existed only in art. I enjoy the banality which they depict the terrors of great purge… Nearly every artists or cultural theorist from the Soviet Union they cite, is revealed in the footnotes to be have imprisoned or executed by Stalin. By depicting an array of failed creative efforts to align artistry with Marx/communism, the book grinds an opening for imagining contemporary approaches to the question. Being a Marxist Artist is depicted as a learning process, which outcome we should not predict (just like communism!).
I got asked for a comment in a Hyperallergic article on Criticism in Finland Over Country’s Selection Process for the Venice Biennale (2023) Avedis Hadjian. The bit where I shyly hope for institutional change “Perhaps it [the curatorial process] also succeeds in having a lasting impact on the institutions involved in the process.” was cut in the editorial process.
Keho vaatii tunnetta [Body calls for emotion] (2023) Tiia From & Onni Oja. A nice to read, solid review of Crimes of the Future (2022) David Cronenberg. This text was written as an assignment for a course in Kankaanpää Art School and the authors very kindly credit me as a teacher! I also wrote shortly about the film.