The concept of the Art Ii Biennial 2018 is built around the concept of water: water as the fundamental element in all forms of life, a cultural interface, a transformable material, a natural storage medium.
Water forms the world’s rain, streams, lakes and oceans. It is vital for all living organisms and is the major constituent of their fluids. The fact that the human body itself consists of 70% water alone demonstrates how crucial water is to our own life.
Throughout history, civilisations have flourished around rivers, seas and other major waterways. Also in Ii – a village built on the banks of the Iijoki River that runs into the Gulf of Bothnia – water has been an essential element.
Water was used to divide the lands of different tribes in the same way that it separates many countries today. However, it also unites territories as a flexible, shifting border. It offers a channel for transportation and exchange and creates a universal cultural interface. In many ways, water functions as a communication and resource network and a natural storage medium that shapes and reshapes the landscape.
An especially interesting quality about water is that it exists in three states: as solid, liquid or gas. While changing its form water remains present in different environmental circumstances. Snow and ice, the sea, the rivers, evaporation and annual water cycles all play an important role in forming the Northern landscape that, in turn, influences the everyday lives and worldviews of the people inhabiting these territories.
Why is water so important in today’s world? How does it reflect changes that take place on a global scale? How do environmental and biological art interact with and adapt to a transforming situation? These were some of the questions addressed by the Art Ii Biennial 2018: States of Matter. The participating artists come from different continents and represent different cultures. Their works offered the audience new and innovative views about water by approaching the theme in an ecological, socio-cultural and geopolitical context. The combination of a series of physical artworks displayed in public space with a program of interactive performances and community activities at Art Ii Biennial 2018 encouraged viewers to become direct participants by sharing their personal experiences and perspectives.
The project of the artists presented by the Art Ii Biennial 2018 demonstrates the large creative potential of water as a theme ans as a medium. The authors rethink the concept of water and search for new ways of using this element in their professional practice: as material for artistic production, as an accessible communication tool, as a ritual base, and as a context for socio-political critique.