When Lenin came to Helsinki

New artistic director of Checkpoint Helsinki Paul O’Neill marks the anniversary of the October Revolution with an exhibition in a small apartment and a large congressional center.

Vladimir Lenin hid in Helsinki during a few months in the spring of 1917 and his political legacy will be will be the focus of a seminar at Checkpoint Helsinki on September 30.

The artist initiative Checkpoint Helsinki will sustain as an independent organization for contemporary art projects and invited international curators.
Despite having spent its funding from the city of Helsinki, Checkpoint Helsinki has received support from the private foundation Kone, thereby securing its operation for the next three years.

The programming continues over the next months with a project and symposium, curated by Joanna Warza, with artist Ilya Orlov about Vladimir Lenin’s stay in Helsinki before the October Revolution in 1917, the year that Finland gained its presently celebrated 100 year old independence. The project Museum of the Museum – an exhibition at Lenin’s hiding place, takes place 30.9. – 22.10. in a small apartment by Hagnäs Square and in the traditionally social democratic congressional center Paasitorni.

Paul O’Niell. Foto: Checkpoint Helsinki.

Beginning in September this year, Checkpoint Helsinki will be led by a newly recruited duo, one of which is artistic director Paul O’Neill from Ireland. He arrives at Checkpoint Helsinki from Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies, where he has been the director since 2013. O’Neill is known as an author and writer about contemporary art and curatorial theory.

O’Neill will work together with director of programming Eliisa Suvanto, who most recently lead the Arte Artists’ Association in Turku, where she headed an extensive program of projects, exhibitions and residencies at among other places gallery Titanik, while developing network-based projects at the Cultural Foundation in Björneborg.

Checkpoint Helsinki has its origin in the now passed controversy surrounding the establishment of a Guggenheim Helsinki. The organization was founded as a grassroots project, where collective conversations led to an institution striving for openness toward international influences and contributions. One of the larger projects was the exhibition Finnish Landscape, a collaboration between Joanna Warza and the National Museum of Finland, which took place in the summer of 2016 at Suerasaari Open-Air Museum.

Ilya Orlov, A House with the View, from the exhibition Finnish Landscape – Contemporary Art at Seurasaari Open-Air Museum, Helsinki, 2016.