Merja Puustinen and Andy Best
Main Hall and Kaapo Gallery
7 May – 24 October 2021
Detail from Paradice express, 2019.
Merja Puustinen and Andy Best’s exhibition “Happy Valley” at Hyvinkää Art Museum investigates the hidden relationship between humankind and the natural world. The unknown and supernatural are often depicted in monstrous form, whether as gods, demons, or mythological beasts.
The exhibition’s name “Happy Valley”, refers to the scandalous lifestyle, drug use and sexual promiscuity of a group of European aristocrats and adventurers who settled in the Wanjohi Valley area of British colonial Kenya and Uganda between the World War I and II.
In the colonial era, the “exotic” was taken to be something to be consumed and exploited in the form of whole continents, their peoples, mineral and animal wealth. Technological supremacy, in turn interpreted as racial superiority, has also been at the heart of mankind’s fascination with military conflict. The symbolism of war, at a time when we are facing the greatest existential threat to civilisation, is shown for the childishness that it is.
Visual and media artists Merja Puustinen and Andy Best are known for their experimental cross-disciplinary works, including visual, media, public, environmental and performance art. The artists have worked together since 1992. They have had an active international career. In 1998 they were awarded the first ever Finnish State Prize for Media Art. In 2016 they won first prize for their work “Varge Dag”, a public artwork developed together with young immigrants in Sweden.
Artists Merja Puustinen and Andy Best’s artworks comprise of brightly coloured sculptural installations. The pedagogical participatory programme is a central part of their exhibition projects.