Adel Abidin: History Wipes

  • 14.3.–22.4.2018
Tickets: with a museum ticket
Adel Abidin: Arkisto, 2018. Taiteilijan omistuksessa. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria / Jenni Nurminen
Adel Abidin: Arkisto, 2018. Taiteilijan omistuksessa. Kuva: Kansallisgalleria / Jenni Nurminen

History Wipes will present video installations and sculptures by the contemporary artist Adel Abidin (born 1973, Baghdad, Iraq). Some of these works are completely new, while others have been created in recent years. The works by the internationally recognised artist deal with the painful aspects of our history and human existence in an increasingly unstable world.


History Wipes challenges us to look at what is happening around us right now – and what has happened over the previous decades and centuries. The exhibition deals with uncomfortable issues that we prefer to shut out from our minds. The subjects include ethnic cleansing, war, refugees, and manipulation exercised by the machinery of power. The artist is interested in what is being wiped from sight: what we seek to blot out and what we keep quiet about.

A total of 11 works will be on display in different parts of the museum, including the main staircase and the exhibition galleries on the second and third floors. Many of the new works in the exhibition have emerged in interaction with the museum’s architecture. The Ateneum is one of the key memory institutions in Finland, and it has shaped the image of Finnishness and country’s common history ever since 1888. Issues related to identity and memory are also central in Adel Abidin’s art.

The exhibition produced by the Ateneum is curated by the director of the Ateneum Art Museum, Susanna Pettersson, Ph.D., and the chief curator Sointu Fritze. Concurrently with Abidin’s exhibition, the Stories of Finnish Art exhibition will feature a selection of works by Henry Ericsson (1898–1933) that deal with the Finnish Civil War, curated by the special researcher Erkki Anttonen.

The exhibition will coincide with publication of the book Adel Abidin – History Wipes, written by Susanna Pettersson. Published by the Parvs publishing company, the book will present new and older works by Abidin.

Adel Abidin lives and works in both Helsinki and Amman, Jordan. Abidin’s work is characterised by a strong social ethos. Through his art, he deals with difficult topics, often using light humour and sarcasm. However, in the end, his works come across as profound, serious and even gloomy.

The production of the video installation Cleansing has been supported by The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture (AVEK) and Qatar Museums (QM).

The artist’s website

Artwork History Wipes not suitable for children

Video installation History Wipes is exhibited on the third floor at gallery 33. The artwork contains scenes of a distressing nature. Parental guidance is advised.

Events related to the exhibition

Wed 21 Mar, 18:00–19:30, ATENEUM LIVE TALK SHOW
Ateneum Bistro. Live encounters once a month, hosted by Baba Lybeck: words, tones and ideas; crying and laughter; and bold debates. The show’s topic is related to Adel Abidin’s exhibition. Admission is free.

Free admission with a student card and for under-25-year-olds. Adel Abidin will present his exhibition, in English, at 16:00. Visible Idea badge workshop in the Ateneum courtyard, 15:00–18:00.

Ateneum Hall. A panel discussion on identity, power and culture. Discussing the History Wipes exhibition will be the artist Adel Abidin; the director of the Ateneum Art Museum, Susanna Pettersson; the leading foresight specialist at the Finnish Innovation Fund, Mikko Dufva; and students from the Helsinki Upper Secondary School of Visual Arts. In Finnish and English.

In English Sundays 8 Apr and 22 Apr at 12:00 | In Finnish Thursdays at 18:00 and Sundays at 13:00 | In Swedish Sunday 1 Apr at 14:00 | In Russian Sunday 8 Apr at 14:00

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