Bodybuilding is an exhibition about the bodily experience. It brings together images of bodies, topical contemporary artworks that discuss the practices of body representation and the bodily experience. The exhibition will feature works by 11 visual and performance artists based in Finland. The works on display will include videos, installations, photographs, and sound and dance pieces.

Additional information and programme

Exhibition catalogue 

The dance pieces performed at the exhibition

  • Sat 2 Dec 3pm Anna Torkkel: Present
  • Sat 13 Jan Masi Tiitta and Anna Torkkel

Gendered identity and the diversity of gender

For many of the artists, their own bodies are instrumental to their work. One of the fundamental questions when images of the body are presented is who is putting whom on display. Artor Jesus Inkerö (b. 1989) studies the gendered identity. In his bodily project, he transforms himself to conform with the normative male ideal. His works form an entity that studies the performative nature of gender: learnt gestures, conventions, and normative expressions of gender.

An interesting insight to the diversity of genders, and the changes that have taken place in the language of the bodily experience in the 21st century, is offered by Aurora Reinhard’s (b. 1975) Boygirl video work (2002). These days, we have an entirely different range of words for expressing gender than fifteen years ago.

Materiality of the body

The bodily can be approached from the point of view of material, sensory, or body memory. A body is an entity that operates under the conditions set to it, among other things, by biology. In the sculptures of Nina Tervo (b. 1983), their material, sand, crumbles onto the floor, freeing the artwork from the form given to it by the artist.

Behavioural models and their regulation

The museum space and established behavioural models govern the body’s movements: sensory perception is often limited to the eye, and the prohibition to touch the works influences the museum experience. The audio work made by Essi Kausalainen (b. 1979) for the Bodybuilding exhibition invites the audience to pay attention to the multisensory experience of Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art. Our bodies are involuntary subjects to the power and discipline of the society. Museum space, which regulates behaviour, is one example of an institution that organises bodies and defines the ideal body. The works of Reija Meriläinen (b. 1987) take place in various communities that operate under mutually agreed rules, but where social tensions often rise, such as games or YouTube channels. The virtual and real worlds are indistinguishable from each other, making the issue of bodily presence even more complex.

Ideals and norms 

Some of the works featured in the exhibition are inevitably and deliberately juxtaposed with the sculptures of Wäinö Aaltonen (1894–1966) that are on permanent display at the museum lobby and terraces. Aaltonen’s Work and Future series on the museum’s terrace, and the Maiden of Finland represent the classical ideals of the male and female bodies raised on a pedestal. Artor Jesus Inkerö’s work Justin, a banderol on the façade of the museum, is contrasted with the sculptures of Aaltonen. Visual arts, museums, and social media, public and increasingly commercialised spaces set ideals and norms to which we compare ourselves and are compared with. With the medium of contemporary art, Bodybuilding exhibition seeks to analyse the bodily experience.

Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art
20 Oct - 14 Jan

Image: Jani Ruscica and Sini Pelkki: Screen Test (For A Living Sculpture), 2012, video. Commissioned by MoMA/PS1 and Creative Time.