Award-winning artist Marita Liulia defends Katariina Souri in the uproar about the Sámi work.
Visual artist Katariina Sourin The body of 19 oil paintings he made for the Lux Helsinki light art event got into the middle of a commotion because of one painting. His Sámi painting was criticized as old-fashioned and stereotypical. Then a surprising turn happened: significant Sámi organizations lined up to support Souri. According to Souri, in the Finnish art field, the work has been treated with mixed feelings – it has even been met with hostility.
Iltalehti caught up with the award-winning long-time artist Marita Liulianwho believes that the discussion on the matter will probably bring plenty of new viewers to Lux Helsingi and Katariina Souri’s works.
– An artistic assessment of Souri’s work is impossible, because we have seen only one painting out of a total of 19 paintings. The final form of presentation of the works is the projection of mythical, anonymous female images onto the very strongholds of power, the church, the State Council and the university, whose shocking relationship with the Sámi has finally been acknowledged, at least to some extent. When projecting onto buildings, the paintings are fragmented. This has not been taken into account in the statements at all, he points out to Iltalehte.
– The one work in question deals with a stereotype and brings nothing else to that genre other than what well-known Sámi artists have done.
He refers to a half Sami artist Marja Helander and award-winning artist Outi Pieskin to works with the same subject areas.
– Having followed Sámi art for forty years, I can say that, of course, Sámi artists themselves have created this stereotype, just as Finns have maintained their own Suomineito stereotype. Stereotypes have been a common theme in contemporary art for decades. For example Andy Warhol works that were once criticized are now considered iconic.
– If the handling of stereotypes were banned, museums and galleries would quickly empty. And who would be the right and genuine artist to deal with a stereotype and who would be the right and genuine body to define this?
He reminds that many of the people who promote the important cause of the Sámi people are not art experts.
– The processing of a part of the works is misleading and the idea of removing a part of the works, i.e. pre-censorship, mainly refers to the eastern neighboring country and, in our circumstances, arouses negative attention for the implementers of such censorship. Therefore, I would rather urge them to defend Sour’s body of work.
– I want to defend his rights, because I myself have been through similar complaints and censorship wishes from one or more people at the museum level during my long career. None of them ended up being censored because the museum directors bravely defended the art they chose and the artist who has done the commissioned work. Lux has already accepted the works.