10.3. — 2.4.2023

Pekka Niskanen
& Mohamed Sleiman Labat: NOMADIC SEEDS
Leonor Ruiz Dubrovin: BOLTHOLE
Jenni Haili:
Voyage Out

  • Photo: Mohamed Sleiman Labat

  • Leonor Ruiz DubrovinSelf Restraint (2023), 53 x 46 cm, oil on canvas

  • Jenni Haili: Voyage outFanny (2022), märkälevyambrotyypit, 24 x 18 cm

Pekka Niskanen & Mohamed Sleiman Labat – Nomadic Seeds

Pekka Niskanen and Mohamed Sleiman Labat follow in their artistic research project the multi-layered story of phosphate in the Baltic region as well as in the Sahrawi Refugee camps in Hamada Desert. The project deals with phosphate and its effects on two vastly different environments.

Small scale family gardens started to emerge in the Sahrawi refugee camps in the Hamada Desert, southwest Algeria around 2002. Leading figures in the process are Sahrawi agricultural engineers and gardeners who have been researching and developing the garden practices together with the families. The theories and practices have become rulebased knowledge in the community.

Gardens and agricultural knowledge are starting to change the food production for Sahrawi refugee community where dependency on international aid has been the case since the arrival of the Sahrawi to the refugee camps in 1975. Earlier the Sahrawi were pastoralist nomads in Western Sahara. Phosphate mining is the reason for Sahrawi’s losing their nomadic way of life and phosphate has reshaped the Baltic Sea marine ecosystem over a half century. The phosphorus fertilizer made of the distant phosphate rock in Western Sahara has ended up to Baltic Sea as well.

The mined phosphate rock used for fertilizers in agriculture has increased the phosphorus fluxes to marine areas threefold. The excessive use of processed fertilizers on farms is causing eutrophication. It is most evident in the form of cyanobacteria blooms, especially in the summer, sometimes also as traces in the frozen sea. The algae get their nutrition from phosphate and nitrogen fertilizers. Finally algae will die in the sea. Dead algal blooms absorb oxygen from the water and sink to the bottom. This causes oxygen depletion in large areas of the Baltic Sea. Significant oxygen loss leads to death of fish and marine life.

In his film, DESERT PHOSfate, Mohamed Sleiman Labat is asking “What is a Sahrawi story?” How do the Sahrawi tell their stories? Where’s the beginning, the middle or the end of the story, If they ever use that structure at all? The nonlinear methods of telling a story largely weave their path through the story in a randomized manner. The methodology of randomness is not logical, it’s poetic and it’s unique.

It’ll be hard to recognize this kind of narrative because of the overwhelming flood of stories we get exposed to online; films and videos that are short, cut in a quick paced manner, overloaded with visual and audio effects all aiming at eating your mind up. There are different kind of stories in this world that don’t resemble Hollywood philosophy and the Western pace of life. Stories and methods that sooth and heal, stories that educate without attempting to convince or convert you into something else. They don’t want to play with your mind.

The exhibition has been supported by Kone Foundation, the Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Oskar Öflunds Stiftelse.

Leonor Ruiz Dubrovin – Bolthole

BOLTHOLE: a place where a person can escape and hide

The Bolthole series depicts different portraits and embodiments that explore internal dilemmas and the desire to rebuild oneself. The exhibition reflects on my concern with the construction of the self and the ways in which personal identities are formed, constrained, or enhanced during ongoing relationships.

The themes of this exhibition are very diverse; the perpetual metamorphosis of identity, the uncertainty of the individual in modern society, the masquerade played by humanity to achieve social acceptance, the illusory and fleeting sensation of triumph and prestige are all treated-and more.

As a whole, the works form a fictitious social scenario where different roles and idealized identities interrelate with each other and form a narrative unit that goes beyond the real promoting an irrational and dreamlike existence.

The project has been supported by Föreningen Konstsamfundet and Taike.


Leonor Ruiz Dubrovin (b. 1978) lives and works in Helsinki. She graduated (MFA) from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2008 and has since then been exhibiting her work in collective and individual exhibitions in different galleries and museums in Finland, Spain, Austria, Denmark and Germany. Such as Taidesalonki Husa, Helsinki Art Museum, Korjaamo Galleria, Galleri Elverket (Pro Artibus Foundation), Finland, Galleri Heike Arndt in Berlin and Denmark, Galerie Toolbox, Berlin, Finnish Cultural Institute in Madrid and Espacio Alexandra, Santander, Spain. Her work has been acquired by several Public and Private collections in Finland and internationally such as the Jenny ja Antti Wihuri Foundation Collection, Pro Artibus Foundation Collection , Finnish State Art Deposit Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma (deposition) of Päivi and Paavo Lipponen Trust’s Art Collection and the Finnish Art Society, Finland.

Jenni Haili – Voyage Out

The starting points of Jenni Haili’s photo installation Voyage Out are the emigration trips of her great-great-aunt Fanny and great-aunt Signe to America.

Fanny (b. 1894) was from Suurpero and Säiniö in the rural municipality of Vyborg. She moved alone at the age of 16 to New York, got married and worked as a housekeeper, her husband at sea. In the late 1930s she moved to California, married twice more until she died in 1969 in Fresno.

Signe (b. 1902) left from the completely opposite side of Finland, the west coast from Kaskis via New York to Boston at the age of 25. She found a Swedish husband, Alfred, whom she married in Manhattan. Alfred also worked at sea. Their last residence was in Malmö, Sweden.

In the timelines formed by the installation, alongside the landscape photographs taken by Haili, images from different sources intertwine: pictures from archives, the web, books, and created by artificial intelligence programs. The images in the work are re-photographed by using the historical wet plate collodion process.

The realization of the work has been supported by the Kone foundation and the Finnish Cultural Fund.


Jenni Haili (b. 1980) is a photographic artist who has an MA from the Aalto University’s School of Arts and Design. Central to her production is the theme of hiding and presenting, as well as photographic history through both techniques and content. Haili’s works have been seen in several solo and group exhibitions in Finland and abroad. In addition to her artistic work, she teaches mainly the analog photography processes at the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts.