Northern Latitude 60.20890 is on view at Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, Helsinki
September 14, 2023 – January 28, 2024
The Arabia Art Department Society’s 20th-anniversary exhibition, “Northern Latitude 60.20890,” takes place at the Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, Helsinki. This exhibition features Finnish contemporary ceramics curated by New York-based gallerists Juliet Burrows and Kim Hostler. Additionally, the anniversary publication, “Arabia Art Department Society 20 Years,” sheds light on the significance of the Arabia Art Department Society from an international perspective and further explores the contents of the previously released “Muotokuvia” podcast for a broader audience.
The Arabia Art Department Society was founded on November 4, 2003, to preserve and develop the legacy of the Arabia Art Department that originated in the 1930s.
“The future of the Arabia Art Department, established as part of the Arabia ceramics factory in the 1930s, had been under consideration for some time. After much discussion, a proposal emerged to form a society that would serve as the new art department. The idea that was thrown in the air carried far-reaching implications,” says artist Pekka Paikkari, one of the founding members of the society.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Arabia Art Department Society. This period has seen various twists and turns, much like the long history of the Arabia Art Department. Its fate has been at stake several times over the decades, yet its gaze has been firmly fixed on the future. Perhaps its resilience lies in the artists of differing ages dreaming and envisioning solutions as a community.
The 20-year story of the society is celebrated in various ways, and the society’s artists, including Professor Heikki Orvola, Kati Tuominen-Niittylä, Pekka Paikkari, Kristina Riska, Heini Riitahuhta, Kim Simonsson, Jasmin Anoschkin, Caroline Slotte, Sakari Kannosto, and Marianne Huotari, are participating in the anniversary year.
The Arabia Art Department Society’s 20th-anniversary exhibition, “Northern Latitude 60.20890,” is on view through January 28, 2024. The coordinates of the exhibition lead to the Arabia district of Helsinki, at the Iittala & Arabia Design Centre, where the Arabia Art Department is located. The anniversary exhibition presents the latest works of the society’s artists. “The exhibition architecture extends from the Design Centre’s lobby to the museum for the first time. The visual design follows the graphic world of the anniversary publication, created by Aleksandra Niiranen,” says exhibition architect Päivi Niemi.
Curators for the exhibition are Juliet Burrows and Kim Hostler, specialists in Nordic design and contemporary ceramics, who lead two galleries in New York and one in Los Angeles. Kristina Riska, a member of the Arabia Art Department Society, was the first living artist they represented. They have since started collaborations with other artists from the society.
”To show the work of a living artist is a completely different act from presenting vintage work. To be able to impart some of the living energy of an artist by way of a personal relationship is transformative”, says Burrows, ”Arabia became instrumental in helping shape our contemporary program. To have such a wealth of artistic talent and inspired craft concentrated in one building was mindboggling.”
Curator Juliet Burrows has also written about the significance of the Arabia Art Department Society from an international perspective for the society’s anniversary publication, “Arabia Art Department Society 20 Years.” The book’s other texts are based on the “Portraits” podcast produced and hosted by writer and interior journalist Maaretta Tukiainen for the society’s anniversary year.
The publication articulates, documents and shares the industrial and artistic expertise and tacit knowledge that the Arabia Art Department has cultivated over the decades. Each artist’s podcast episode has its own chapter in English translation, allowing the material to reach an international audience. The book was edited and the texts were written by Elise Simonsson, with graphic design by Aleksandra Niiranen, translations by Rebecca Watson, and images primarily by Chikako Harada.
The book also introduces the JUHLAT collection, which honors the 20th anniversary of the Arabia Art Department Society and the 150th anniversary of Arabia. The jar designed by Heini Riitahuhta serves as a stand for the artworks of the society’s artists. The limited edition of 150 pieces was crafted at the premises of the Arabia Art Department in collaboration with ceramic artist Susanne Koskimäki. The anniversary exhibition also features the collection and a video depicting its production by Juho Länsiharju.
The anniversary publication is also displayed at the “Northern Latitude 60.20890” exhibition and in the window exhibition of the society’s main partner for the anniversary year, SEB (Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken), on Eteläesplanadi.
About the Arabia Art Department Society
Professors Heljä Liukko-Sundström and Heikki Orvola, Inkeri Leivo (1944-2010), Fujiwo Ishimoto, Kati Tuominen-Niittylä, Pekka Paikkari, Kristina Riska, and Heini Riitahuhta founded the Arabia Art Department Society on November 4, 2003.
The Guest Artist Program was initiated in 2004 and has included participants such as Kim Simonsson, Heikki Rahikainen, Caroline Slotte, Merja Haapala, Maija Vainonen, Jasmin Anoschkin, Aimo Katajamäki, Saana Murtti, Veera Kulju, Kalle Hamm & Dzamil Kamanger, Sakari Kannosto, Marianne Huotari, and Miikka Lommi.
Arabia Art Department Society’s 20th-anniversary main cooperation partner is SEB.
The Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland support the publication and the anniversary exhibition.
The Muotokuvia (Portraits) podcast was supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland in 2022. The Muotokuvia (Portraits) podcast was produced for the Arabia Art Department Society by Moodit Oy.
The “Northern Latitude 60.20890” anniversary exhibition, the anniversary book, and the Visiting Artist Program are also supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Swedish Cultural Foundation.
The Arabia Art Department Society operates within the Iittala & Arabia Design Center, Arabia 135 – Creativity Block in Helsinki.
Iittala & Arabia Design Centre
Hämeentie 135A, 8th Floor
Photos by Jefunne Gimpel