The exhibition from the collections of the Oulu Art Museum explores the vulnerability and fragility of life from the perspectives of insecurity, loneliness and marginalisation but also hope. The themes of the exhibition are approached through a number of questions displayed in the galleries. Their purpose is to make us think of what we mean when we talk about security, invisibility and evil. What do loneliness, health or dignity mean on the level of the individual, the community or the society?

One of the museum’s tasks is to participate in the social debate by highlighting current phenomena. Works in the museum’s collections can be used to build shared narratives that allow us to look at difficult issues on a human level.  Artists give shape to experiences that are recognisable and shared in the society around them and make them visible in their work. This way, the museum’s collections become part of the community’s memory and cultural history.

When the exhibition was being conceived, many works that expressed pain and its symptoms so strongly that they began to form biographical illustrations as if by themselves emerged from the museum’s collections. Similarly, aspects of healing and hope emerged from the catalogue. The works in the exhibition depict universal emotions and phenomena. They are a reminder that there are other people in the world who have experienced the things that we may be going through. Sharing common experiences creates a sense of being understood. With understanding, we can build connections and change the structures that suppress or perpetuate pain, also on the level of the society.

Finland has a long history of multi-generational mental health challenges involving poverty, disease and war. Global crises have also affected people’s lives in different ways. Experiences of pain are still very much present in our time. To make a balanced and equal future possible, it is particularly important to highlight the importance of care and nurture in the chain of generations. Dreams and hope strengthen the belief that life is valuable and meaningful.

This exhibition with works from Oulu Art Museum’s collections features works by over 80 artists in a variety of techniques and styles. The exhibition has been organised in cooperation with the Northern Ostrobothnia Museum, whose collections of objects from the Health Care Museum and Oulunsuu Hospital form an interesting part of the exhibition.

The exhibition is curated by Katariina Kemppainen, curator of collections at Oulu Art Museum.