13 May – 17 Sept 2023

M_itä? Biennale of Contemporary Art


The third edition of the M_itä? Biennale of Contemporary Art opens in Joensuu with an invitation to critically engage with the histories and complex socio-political conditions that shape the region. In this exhibition, the artists address the fractures caused by borders placed over lands, bodies, and kinship. They engage with archives to reconnect with overlooked histories, and reimagine traditions and relations to place. 

The Biennale takes place in Joensuu Art Museum Onni and in North Karelian Museum Hilma.



  • Jaakko Autio
  • Baran Caginli
  • Disconnected Space Research Group (Jaakko Ruuska, Kati Korosuo, Timo Jokitalo, Hanna Koikkalainen and Pavel Rotts)
  • August Joensalo
  • Nana & Felix
  • Katriina Rosavaara
  • Lebohang Tlali
  • Riitta Turunen & Outi Särkikoski.

Saastamoinen Foundation supports the production of M_itä? Biennale.  


26 January – 16 April 2023
Tarja Malinen & Eeva Tiisala: Peace – the Breath of Life

In the joint exhibition of Tarja Malinen and Eeva Tiisala, the artists approach questions concerning the circle of life and the existence of nature and humanity with their own, unique voices.

Tarja Malinen (1961–) is a North Karelian artist with a long career in sculpting and installation art. Malinen’s work explores current and timeless themes, such as the peaceful co-existence of different cultures and the loneliness young people experience. After the death of her son, Malinen has processed her grief through her work. In 2022, Malinen received a six-month grant from the North Karelia Regional Fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation.
Tiisala and Malinen’s friendship began in the early 1980s. The artists studied together in the night classes of the Helsinki University of Fine Arts held in Ateneum and have since stayed in touch, supporting and cheering each other on.

Eeva Tiisala (1952–) gives context to her art through her poetry.

The morning
of Brightness
Look, Unnoticed
Here Everywhere
in the First Green
just There and There also
It’s Blooming
among us

I hope you
wouldn’t fly far
Would you tell
That you will Be
There is nothing
but existence
Am I asking this from You
In Front of your assumed Leaving


Past Exhibitions:

22 Sept 2022–8 Jan 2023

Vibrant colours, unpolished edges – Art of the 1980s and ’90s from the collections of the Joensuu Museum of Art

The exhibition at Joensuu Museum of Art brings the sculptures and paintings of the 1980s and early 90s to the forefront. The economic boom of the era influenced artists as well: The Finnish visual arts became increasingly more global and commercial demand for works of art grew.

During this time Expressionism regained popularity and the works grew greater in size. A common trait of the works in this exhibition is the intense use of colour and an emphasis on physical feel. The layers of colour are thick, the surfaces of sculptures rough, and the brushstrokes vigorous.

The public became familiar with some of the artists during the 1980s. Expressive painters such as Marika Mäkelä, Jukka Mäkelä, Leena Luostarinen, Raili Tang, and Henry Wuorila-Stenberg garnered widespread renown.

In the grayscale painting of Marika Mäkelä visitors can discover hints of the fortifications found in the woods of Myllypuro near Helsinki. Studying the works of Jukka Mäkelä reveals inspiration found in natural themes, while Raili Tang addresses the viewer directly with unfolding layers of meaning behind the colours.

The works of the exhibition do more than create an impression of their subject or the era in which they were made. They are experiences, not of the past, but of the present, and draw attention to what we feel in the moment we study them. How does the work of art live and breathe before us?

5 May–4 September 2022

Niina Mantsinen & EGS
Soft Protest and Controversial Decorations – Interpretations of Graffiti


The exhibition is an encounter between works by the anonymous graffiti artist EGS (b.1974, Helsinki) and textile artist Niina Mantsinen (b.1986, Liperi). The artists in the exhibition use traditional crafts and glass blowing techniques in their works in an open-minded and new way. In Mantsinen’s works, graffiti is transformed into soft and homely rugs, while EGS’s production has in recent years expanded in the direction of glass sculptures and installations. 

Niina Mantsinen has been creating graffiti-inspired rugs and works combining various handicraft techniques with street art’s visual language for over a decade. Mantsinen has created works in cooperation with both Finnish and international street and graffiti artists.

Combining graffiti and street art with traditional textile work techniques also combines two worlds that seem different at first glance. Crafts have mostly been done in the home, while street art has occupied spaces in city environments both with and without permission.

Mantsinen graduated as a designer from North Karelia University of Applied Sciences and was awarded the North Karelia Art Prize by the Arts Council of North Karelia in 2014.  Her works have also been exhibited in numerous exhibitions in Finland and abroad.

Preferring to remain anonymous, EGS is known for the graffiti he has produced since the late 1980s, which has been seen in more than 50 countries. EGS studied graphic design at the University of the Arts in London, but he currently works as a full-time artist.

In recent years, EGS’s production has shifted towards more typical forms of visual arts, such as sculptures and installations.  In the artist’s works, the distinction between street art and traditional art displayed in galleries and museums has increasingly narrowed.

EGS’s works always contain the three letters of his professional name in some form, although these letters may be transformed into an almost unrecognised form in the works. The themes of the works are often thought-provoking in themselves, and many of the works take a stand. However, visually, they still draw from the rugged aesthetics of street art on concrete surfaces. The current exhibition includes both new and previously exhibited works.

27 Jan–13 Apr 2022
Pia Männikkö – Growth

The work of visual artist Pia Männikkö (b. 1971) is largely based on the spatial interaction between the viewer and the works. The works approach the human body in a multidimensional way, coming close to the viewer. This closeness is reflected in the material choices as well as in the holistic and inviting forms of the works.

The materials and visual elements of Männikkö’s works often refer to the human physicality even if this may not always be obvious at first glance. You can find actual body impressions, landscapes consisting of body shapes or even a tree growth ring made of hair. In addition, the works use everyday materials, such as rescue blankets, masking tape and even an ordinary fan.

Slow changes and the passage of time are also made visible in the exhibition. The installations take on a slightly different form each time they enter a new space. The forms of the works grow almost organically from one presentation to another.

Männikkö studied at the Department of Sculpture and Environmental Art at the Glasgow School of Art in Scotland, graduating in 2010. She continued her sculpture studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, graduating as a Master of Fine Arts in 2014.

Männikkö’s works have toured the world extensively. They have been displayed in Paris, New York, and Sydney, for example. She has also created public works of art in Gothenburg and Tierp, Sweden as well as in the Lighthouse Hospital in Turku. Some of Männikkö’s works are included in the art collections of Kiasma and the Finnish State. The exhibition at Joensuu Art Museum is Männikkö’s first solo exhibition at a museum.

22 Sept 2021– 9 Jan 2022
Perceptions of Humanity

Selected works from Joensuu Art Museum's collections and media art by Jukka Hautamäki

Throughout the history of visual arts, human being has been a popular subject of study. People have been depicted not only as physical beings but also through their role in society. Artists have also explored philosophical ideas about the nature of being human and the possible unifying factors between individuals; the shared experience of humanity.The exhibition includes various portrayals of people from the museum’s collections and media art by visual artist Jukka Hautamäki.

The way people have been depicted in art reveals ideas and attitudes about how being human has been perceived. The topic can be approached by asking: how and from whose point of view the subject has been depicted, who the subjects are, and who have been excluded, or at the very least marginalised, and who has been considered worthy of being immortalised in art?

It is also interesting to consider whether the subject had the opportunity to influence how they are seen and presented. Do they have a name, or do they represent some predefined group?

Jukka Hautamäki’s works discuss what visual art will be like in the future: who will make it, how, and to whom will it be displayed? In his media art pieces portraits are generated with the help of neural networks and artificial intelligence, and they form an uninterrupted, constantly evolving continuum. Hautamäki has used self-portraits and synthetically created faces as training images for artificial intelligence.

Permanent Exhibitions

Permanent Exhibitions

Joensuu Art Museum houses an interesting collection of art from Finland and around the world, mainly donated to the museum by private collectors. The permanent exhibitions include Finnish art from 1850s to modern days, Greek and Roman antiquities, Eastern Orthodox icons, catholic church art from Southern and Central Europe, and a collection of Chinese art, in which the oldest artifacts are from 1600 BCE.

You can listen to an audio guide on your phone while visiting us, open the guide here.



Picture 1: Icon collection. Picture 2: Albert Edelfelt, Virginie 1883. Golden Era of Finnish art. Picture 3: Chinese horse sculptures from the Han Dynasty. Picture 4: The museum building.



Kirkkokatu 23
80100 Joensuu, Finland

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