Symposium: Open Up and Shape Helsinki



9–10 June 2022

Free access. In English. All Welcome!

Organised by PUBLICS and Kohta , Open Up and Shape Helsinki Symposium is convened over three days to celebrate the international launch of the new SHAPE online platform. The symposium is structured around three intersecting topics:

– Infrastructures of power, and (re-)distribution

– Class, money and access

– Institutional reimagining and future publics

The symposium mobilises a public coming together around SHAPE  (Spaces, Helsinki, Art, Projects, Events) platform, initiated in 2021 by PUBLICS and Kohta.

SHAPE is an a new and essential resource for Helsinki’s contemporary art landscape, a mapping of art spaces and public events across the city. SHAPE is a useful tool for navigating the diversity of Helsinki art scenes and to find out what’s happening, where and when. Users and visitors can browse upcoming activities as well as find out more about their initiating organisations. SHAPE is organised around eight main categories of activity: Books, Events, Exhibitions, Festivals, Initiatives, Museums, Supports, and Workspaces. SHAPE supports more than 100 organisations locally, connecting them to each other and to their audiences.

How do local organizations respond to the urgencies of our current moment? In planning Open Up and Shape Helsinki Symposium, we have kept in mind our many immediate and common challenges. How can we open up resources, including funding and the institutions providing it? How can we make such resources more transparent and productive?

We have also acknowledged that art organisations with short-term funding are too often in a reactive mode. How can we build strategies for redistributing and decentralising power for the foreseeable future? Open Up and Shape Helsinki Symposium begins by asking how equity, labor, money and structures of power are configured globally, and connects these issues to the local context in Helsinki.

The symposium program is planned in the framework of the three-year Open Up (Creative Europe) project, for which PUBLICS is a partner. Frame Contemporary Art Finland joins the collaboration by co-hosting one session in the context of Rehearsing Hospitalities public program.

Thursday, 9 June at PUBLICS (Sturenkatu 37/41 4b)

10:00 Coffee and Introduction by Paul O’Neill

10:30 Keynote by Carolina Rito, with Joasia Krysa

12:00 Lunch

13:00 Rants & Raves: Kohta, Pengerkatu 7 – Työhuone, Trojan Horse, Pixelache, Alkovi

13:30 Keynote by Bassam El Baroni, with Constantinos Miltiadis

15:00 Closing notes, Rants & Raves reflection by Dahlia El Broul

Screening: Deep Structure by Ilona Sagar (28 mins)

Selected collection of Six Chairs Books available during the symposium.

Drinks by Vallilan Panimo.

Friday, 10 June at PUBLICS

12:00 Introduction by Jussi Koitela; Rants & Raves: Rab-Rab Press, PUBLICS, Globe Art Point, PALO Art Productions, Vargas Print Studio

12:30 Keynote by Cynthia Cruz, with Niko Hallikainen

14:00 Panel Conversation: Justina Zubaitė-Bundzė, Helen Kaplinsky, Maria Mkrtycheva, Irina Mutt and Henri Terho

16:00 Closing notes, Rants & Raves by Henna Harri

17:00 Drinks at Kohta (Työpajankatu 2B, Building 7, 3rd Floor)

PUBLICS is a curatorial and commissioning agency with a dedicated research library and event space in Helsinki, Finland. Under the artistic direction of curator Paul O’Neill, with program manager and curator Eliisa Suvanto, PUBLICS explores a “work together” institutional model with multiple overlapping objectives, thematic strands and collaborations.

Frame Contemporary Art Finland is an advocate for Finnish contemporary art. Frame supports international initiatives, facilitates professional partnerships, and encourages critical development of the field through grants, visitor programme and curator residencies, seminars and talks, exhibition collaborations and network platforms. Frame is the commissioner of the Pavilion of Finland at the Venice Biennale.


Bassam El Baroni is associate professor in curating at the School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Aalto University, and editor of Between the Material and the Possible: Infrastructural Re-Examination and Speculation in Art published by Sternberg Press.

Cynthia Cruz is the author of The Melancholia of Class: A Manifesto for the Working Class and Disquieting: Essays on Silence and seven critically acclaimed collections of her poetry, including Hotel Oblivion published by Four Way Books.

Carolina Rito is Professor of Creative Practice Research, at the Research Centre for Arts, Memory and Communities (CAMC), at Coventry University. Rito coedited Institution as Praxis – New Curatorial Directions for Collaborative Research published by Sternberg Press.

Joasia Krysa is curator of the 2nd edition of Helsinki Biennial opening summer 2023, and Professor of Exhibition Research and Head of Art and Design at Liverpool John Moores University, with an adjunct position at Liverpool Biennial.

Constantinos Miltiadis is a transdisciplinary architect and doctoral researcher in the Departments of Design and of Architecture at the School of ARTS of Aalto University. His work focuses on aesthetic phenomena between technology and culture.

Niko Hallikainen teaches creative writing in the dance performance programmes at University of the Arts Helsinki. Niko is currently finishing his second novel, dealing with spectres, libido and bad luck in the landscape of the Nordic class system.

Justina Zubaitė-Bundzė is a contemporary art librarian, responsible for the collection and the event’s program at the Reading Room of the CAC Vilnius and owns the independent art bookshop Six Chairs Books.

Helen Kaplinsky is a curator and writer based in Helsinki and London, researching cyberfeminist legacies, postdigital identity and ownership. She is currently undertaking a PhD in Curating at Liverpool John Moores University, Exhibition Research Lab (UK) and is part of Beyond Matter, a research collaboration across several European galleries.

Maria Mkrtycheva is a curator, educator and researcher. She is currently conducting PhD research at the University of Wolverhampton, part of the FEINART network, focusing on the relationships between the art institutions and the public(s) through the notions of situatedness, asymmetrical reciprocity and in-betweenness.

Irina Mutt is an in(ter)dependent writer and curator from Barcelona currently based in Helsinki. She has been part of the public program commission at Hangar BCN and for the Catalan Critic Association.

Henri Terho is the Head of Arts Support in Arts Promotion Centre Finland. He is also the chair of Finnish State Art Commission.

Dahlia El Broul is an artist, educator and curator, the chair of Catalysti; an arts association focused on anti-racist work, inclusivity, and equity. Dahlia is currently a PhD student at the University of Fine Arts Hamburg (HFBK).

Henna Harri is the director of the Association of Photographic Artists and Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in Helsinki, Finland. She is co-directing Art Fair Suomi, a biennial contemporary art festival in Helsinki.

Ilona Sagar’s work responds to the social and historic context found in the public and private spaces we inhabit, using a diverse range of media spanning moving-image, text, performance and assemblage. Sagar is the Stanley Picker Arts Fellow 2021 and the Saastamoinen Foundation, Helsinki, artist in residence for 2022.

Alkovi is a window art display space in Kallio, Helsinki. The space presents contemporary art exhibitions focused on dealing with urban culture and art events.

Globe Art Point advocates cultural equity, diversity and inclusion in the arts and cultural sector in Finland. G.A.P also serves as an information centre and meeting point for foreign-born artists and cultural workers.

PALO is a Helsinki-based production platform for multimedia artists from different generations and backgrounds who interrogate society and challenge the status quo.

Pengerkatu 7 – Työhuone (Massage & Beauty) is an independent, non-profit, soft, intimate, polymorphic and polyphonic hybrid artspace run by artists and researchers Simo Kellokumpu and Vincent Roumagnac.

Pixelache is an association of artists, cultural producers, thinkers and activists involved in the creation of emerging cultural activities, coordinated by the Finnish non-profit cultural association Piknik Frequency ry.

Rab-Rab Press is an independent discursive platform based in Helsinki. It publishes an annual Rab-Rab: journal for political and formal inquiries in art, and special publications advancing non-institutional thought.

Trojan Horse is an autonomous educational platform based in Helsinki. Trojan Horse organizes summer schools, live action role-plays, workshops and reading circles in the landscapes of architecture, design and art.

Vargas Print Studio aims to support professional artists and creatives to work, research and experiment in a multidisciplinary environment where design, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics and printmaking meets.