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Who Is an Animal?

HAM Helsinki Art Museum, 17 May – 18 August 2024

The animal kingdom has intrigued artists through the ages, and animals are among the oldest classic subjects in Western art. Curated mostly from Helsinki’s City-owned art collections, Who is an Animal? features 91 works by 48 artists, including photographs, videos, paintings, sculptures, graphic art and installations spanning from the late 19th century to the present day.

The exhibits are grouped thematically under animals as individuals, challenges of coexistence with humans, altered habitats and animal agency. Animals are spotlighted with warmth and humour in this exhibition curated by HAM’s curator Sanna Juntunen.

The human claim of superiority over other species has resulted in accelerated biodiversity loss and other drastic consequences. Many artists today are questioning and exposing the specious nature of human-made hierarchies. Although we cannot escape the limitations of being human, we can foster hope of a fairer coexistence through speculative imagining, radical empathy and acceptance of species equality.

As part of the exhibition, HAM has also invited sociologist Salla Tuomivaara to join in a discussion about animals that are conspicuous by their absence in human-made art.

Despite its serious underlying themes, the exhibition is also suitable for younger members of the family. We have compiled a creature trail inviting kids to explore the exhibition through play and fun activities.

The featured artists are Jasmin Anoschkin, Mikko Carlstedt, Helge Dahlman, E. Dupre, Eeva-Leena Eklund, Gabriel Engberg, Hilda Maria Flodin, Terike Haapoja, Mikko Haiko, Mari Hallapuro, Jussi Heikkilä, Leila Hietala-Hämäläinen, Reino Hietanen, Maiju Hukkanen, Paula Humberg, Kati Immonen, Appu Jasu, Anja Juurikkala, Esko Kaarakka, Ismo Kajander, Sanna Kannisto, Kaija Kontulainen, Anne Koskinen, Aura Kotkavirta, Paula Lehtonen, Maija Luutonen, Lotta Mattila, Esko Männikkö, Lotta Määttänen, Heikki Nieminen, Pirkko Nukari, Tuula Närhinen, Dennis Oppenheim, Roland Persson, Anna Retulainen, Liisa Ruusuvaara, Stiina Saaristo, Pentti Sammallahti, Joakim Sederholm, Verner Thomé, Heli Tiitinen, Frans Toikkanen, Ritva Tuomi, Gunnar Uotila, Thom Vink, Hanna Weselius, Victor Westerholm and Helena Öst.