Genesis – additional information
Alternative viewpoints into the history of paper industry in Mänttä
The exhibition Genesis highlights alternative viewpoints into the history of paper industry in Mänttä: worker’s role in the genesis of the company and development of the industrial community as well as the economical motives that steered the operations of the forest combine’s management. Artist-curator Ahmed Al-Nawas and visual artist Minna Henriksson present political history through means of art. Their artworks are based on archival research, and they actively involve handicraft.
A dominating feature in the lobby of Serlachius company’s former headquarters, a frieze painted by Lennart Segerstråle is one point of reference for the exhibition that critically researches history. The artwork depicting the Genesis of Mänttä emphasizes the mill founder’s heroic role in the development of the industrial community. The exhibition presents this development from another point of view.
Scientific conclusions which supported the idea of Greater Finland are on view on the first floor along with the concept of Fennoscandia. Forest industry found the idea of expansion eastwards pleasant because it could secure access to raw material. Serlachius company had a reputation of being a feller of forests. This is posed a grave contradiction with Serlachius family’s engagement as a producer and collector of idealistic sylvan pictures. Landscape-themed collections works and critical voices against the logging highlight this polarity in the exhibition halls.
A tufted rug and blacklists
Demolished Worker’s Club’s former chairs positioned next to the board of directors’ conference room refer on various levels of decision making and influencing. The exhibition’s core artwork, the Genesis rug is exhibited on the second floor. The tufted rug tells the story of the Mänttä mill community from the perspective of the workers. In the art piece, groups of workers have gathered, and red flags are flying. The rug, which represents traditional women’s handicraft, also acts through its material as a counterweight to Segerstråle’s works, which draw on high culture. The archive room on the second floor showcases versatile material and photographs that open the workers’ point of view as well as blacklists which the employers utilised in classifying their employees as reliable or undesirable workers.