Curatorial Statement 2020


The world has changed since we last gathered in Kuopio to experience and celebrate ANTI Festival. For much of this year the very act of gathering, of coming together, has never – in our lifetimes – evoked such a complicated set of questions and problems, problems that remain unresolved as we write this in mid-August after many months of looking to the future to see what the future has in store for those that want to come together, from the far corners of the world, to gather in Kuopio.

We began thinking about the theme for this year’s festival some years ago – food, and its associative acts of cooking, eating, growing, farming, providing, the list is long, it is at the centre of life. It is personal, private, deeply social, public, political, it speaks to industry, to production, to micro, local, national and international economies and ecologies, it is global, it is domestic, very often, perhaps always, it is gendered, it has to do with our bodies, how we see each other and how we see ourselves. We know now, more clearly than at any point in human civilisation that if we get food wrong we will bring an end to human civilisation. And we know that when the ability to sit together and eat together, with friends, with family, is taken away from us it signals that something is fundamentally wrong; we want to eat together – it is a human thing to do, it feels good.

When we began thinking about the theme for this year’s festival we had no idea how the things we think about when we think about food would become problematised to the extent they have in 2020. But because it’s difficult to come together doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try, and if we can – if it’s safe now, if as artists and audiences we’re willing, if we can work collectively to make it happen then let’s do it, let’s find a way to break bread together in Autumn 2020 for the 19th edition of ANTI Festival.

We can promise you a fantastic festival, one that takes on food (and drink, let’s not forget drink) from surprising, provocative and unique perspectives. Projects range from the intimate to the communal, we’ll be offered a window into the domestic life of strangers and be given opportunities to make new friends, we’ll eat together, think together, walk together and be together in ways that perhaps we haven’t for some time now. And there’ll be excellent coffee. We’ll also be safe; we have of course designed this festival to take into account everything needed to for us all to be safe, at all times.

This year’s festival marks the 2nd edition of Shortlist LIVE and we’re thrilled to present the four shortlisted artists for the ANTI Festival International Prize for Live Art through a mix of live and remote showings – a unique set of artists and artworks for a unique year. Make sure to engage with this extraordinary part of the programme, the prize is always exciting, and the works shortlisted artists share with us are always breath-taking.

So, let’s do the thing that has been so difficult to do this year, let’s gather together. Let’s do that in acknowledgement that many around the world cannot, that we are fortunate that we can and that we’ll value the experience anew as we’ve learnt in so many other parts of lives to not take simple pleasures for granted. Not that ANTI Festival is a simple pleasure, it’s a complicated, intense, rich, and aromatic pleasure for those that prefer a taste of something strikingly unusual.

Johanna Tuukkanen & Gregg Whelan
Artistic Directors