Riiko Sakkinen's exhibition about European borders
“If you demand that Europe’s borders be closed, you are not following your time. Our borders have already been closed, with concertina wire that tears both flesh and clothes. The Iron Curtain of the Cold War was a toy compared to the present border fences of Europe.” Riiko Sakkinen’s exhibition Closing Borders studies a Europe that is barricading its borders and turning in on itself.
Sakkinen’s words are based on what he himself has seen and experienced. In 2016, together with the curator of the exhibition, Director of Serlachius Museums Pauli Sivonen, he toured Europe’s external borders: to the African cities, which belong to Spain, the Greek archipelago, the Balkan routes and, finally, the demolished refugee camps in France.
During their travels, the artist and the curator saw refugees and migrants trying to reach Europe, their path blocked by metres high fences and razor-sharp concertina barbed wire. They saw refugees placed in conditions reminiscent of concentration camps. They saw refugees in the border zone of two countries, stuck in no-man’s-land, living in makeshift tented villages.
Sakkinen is a political artist. He finds the subject matter for his images in entertainment and consumer culture: comic strips, packaging and advertising. The multi-layered and provocative works contain references to history and social ills: attitudes and racism.
Through the exhibition’s key works Sakkinen addresses the issues encountered by the refugees as well as the attitudes of the indigenous population towards refugees and migrants from the Middle East and Africa. Also highlighted is a Malaga-based company that manufactures razor wire used on border fences and which has grown during the economic crisis.
In the exhibition Sakkinen is saying what kind of Europe and world he would like to live in.
“I want a world where there are no borders and where people can freely choose their place of residence. I want a world where people have the right to move but, above all, the right not to move. I want a world where no-one has to leave home because of war, violence, persecution or poverty.
Museum Gösta 4 February 2017–7 January 2018