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…In search of Paradise

Exhibition-presentation of the Northern Paradise international art project

Organizers: Tourist Information Centre of the Republic of Karelia, Joensuu Artists’ Association with support of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Karelia, Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland

Opening: September 9, 2016 at 17.00 at the Vyhod Media Centre

Online broadcast - September, 9 from 5 p.m. to 5.30 p.m. on the website


A few words about the project

The idea of the project appeared during the Russian-Finnish Forum in 2015 in Petrozavodsk on the meeting between Sergey Terentyev, artistic director of the Vyhod Media Centre, and Kari Virtanen and Heidi Vasara, the representatives of the Joensuu Artists’ Association. They payed attention to the fact that the artists of two neighboring countries don’t know each other at all and their work is often left behind from transborder cultural dialogues despite that they geographically work on the common territory of Karelia (Finnish and Russian parts). That’s why a new development and cooperation vector - working with young artists and extention of the exchange program between Petrozavodsk and Joensuu to the form of joint residency for mixed artistic groups working on the same theme. Thus the initial idea of a small exchange project grew up into a long-term programme with the final exhibition in and outside Karelia entitled “Northern Paradise” as metaphor of utopian notion of the ideal, an aspiration to transform Northern region into a Paradise for the artists, creators, and all the people living here…

Conceived as multipurpose and multicultural, this contemporary art project is aimed at focusing on many challenges and demands of today. Friendly and joint creativity of the artists from two countries is only exterior evident facet of its construction. The project rethinks the role of art and culture as an enormous resource yet underestimated and uncomprehensive by the businesses and authorities for the socio-economical situation on the region. To change the out-of-date image of Karelia, where tourists are searching for “the fog and the smell of taiga” to the high-tech image of modern Republic, where people come for culture, national traditions, innovative ideas – that is the perspective of designing the future. Out of the reflections on it and the dreams of better tomorrow emerged the Northern Paradise project’s idea. The image created by an artist is more than a service or a product; it is a new aesthetic and philosophical environment that raises and influences the whole complex of things that we can call comfortable and welfare living on this territory. Northern Paradise is just a small step towards a beautiful future and for that it is very important to formulate a renewed image of our today. In other words, that is the mission of our project.

In August 2016, the central project event of this year was held - an artistic expedition around the Onega lake on the ship which became a sailing base, a means of transportation and a workshop for the artists. For 5 days a sailing residency with Russian and Finnish artists onboard moved around the places of interest of the Onega lake letting the artists take expedition sallies, gather the material for their author projects, introduce with cultural, historical and natural heritage of this part of Karelia.

About the exhibition “In search of Paradise”

The exhibition gives all visitors and participants of the project a chance to take a look in the ‘’artists’ kitchen” in the very beginning of the big work. This time you will not see the real pieces of art (they are about to be created), but you can feel the creative process. Authors and curators of the project would have an opportunity to collect and generalize the impressions of the journey, to see these intermediate results from the outside. As for the visitors, the exhibition will probably open an interesting secret how the artistic ideas appear and how they eventually turn into an artist’s statement.

9 artists from the Republic of Karelia and Northern Karelia region of Finland along with two curators – Heidi Vasara and Sergey Terentyev took part in the project expedition as a part of the Karelian art-residency that was held 22-26th August.

The joint journey on the ship, landings in different locations of the coast and islands of the Onega lake, the necessity of communicating and helping each other, - all this became a wonderful adventure, putting together an international creative team and giving a lot to think about for the further work of everyone. If we take a closer look at the sketches and draft materials presented for the first exhibition-presentation right after the end of the expedition, the possible artistic tandems that emerged during the contest stage become even more evident as well as the dialogues between their creative ideas.

For instance, Dina Chetvertnaya and Jarkko Suvela use the aesthetics of counterculture, anti-art as a tool – a scalpel, dissecting familiar images from daily life and mummified traditions. Natalia Loginova and Tuomas Ollikainen are seeking to reveal myths of modern time through the space and object.

Paivi Hynninen, Antonina Yufa and Tuuli Meriläinen use the territory of the familiar visuality that highly demands traditional plastic language – colour, form and space. Forcing some elements of visual language allows the authors to enter the research of invisible world, would it be inner spiritual world of the creator or natural cosmos of the environment we live in.

And finally introducing the artists-‘heavyweighters’ of the project – Hanneriina Moisseinen and Natalia Egorova with her creative team (her colleague in project ornithologist Sergey Simonov took part in the expedition). For them art is the form of life and a method of its cognition.

In the framework of the project the artists were not only admiring the beautiful

Northern nature, drawing and painting, collecting artifacts, stones, moss, recording voices of birds, but also met with the locals, that, of course, was very informative especially for the Finnish participants and extended their knowledge of Russian part of Karelia. 

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