The Venice Questionnaire: Miracle Workers Collective

Talking toxic nationalism ahead of their show in the Finnish pavilion

Miracle Workers Collective, The Killing of Čáhcerávga, 2019 (still), HD video. Courtesy the artists.

ArtReview sent a questionnaire to artists and curators exhibiting in and curating the various national pavilions of the 2019 Venice Biennale, the responses to which will be published daily in the lead-up to the Venice Biennale opening on 11 May.

Miracle Workers Collective represent Finland. The pavilion is in the Giardini.

ArtReview: What can you tell us about your exhibition plans for Venice?

Miracle Workers Collective: Nothing at the moment – actually, we did ask ourselves ‘how do you trespass the construct of the nation?’ Is this sufficiently vague?

What does it mean to ‘represent’ Finland? Do you find it an honour or is it problematic?

Well, we’re representing the Miracle Workers Collective at a space called the Finnish Pavilion. With nationalism reaching new heights of toxicity and the stench of its capitalist wrapping becoming more unbearable, we are surprised anyone still thinks it (the nation state) is a viable experiment in the organisation of humxnity. So, in many ways, we have to reconfigure what it means to live together. The notion of the nation state is just as outdated as the notion of patrimony and patriarchy. We must be active in this reimagination of what societies of the present and future can be.

Is your work transnational or rooted in the local?

Our work is anational. It’s the local rooted in the transnational – wait, wait – it is the local rooted in the suspension of nationality. Our work is rooted in exploring the potentiality of collective practice. This collectivity, per se, negates the fictional nature of nationality and nationalism as the primary categories of grouping humxns.

How does having a pavilion in Venice make a difference to the art scene in Finland?

It probably doesn’t, as getting rid of structural inequities will not happen with one exhibition or many. What is important is exploring new alliances and relations that otherwise do not happen due to alienation. It is about moving beyond, about rehearsing our dreams or rebellion. It is about moving beyond while realising that what others refuse to understand is what strengthens our dreams. And by the way, Venice is just one of many stops in our project. The project already started a year ago with the founding of the collective. Then we have iterations in Berlin, Venice, Helsinki and Karasjok. Which is to say, with all due respect, Venice is one stop in a longer process.

If you’ve been the biennale before, what’s your earliest or best memory from Venice?

Seeing your hopes and dreams get stuck in traffic ;)

You’ll no doubt be very busy, but what else are you looking forward to seeing?

Everything! But especially looking forward to seeing how many of the millions of people coming to Venice will actually realise that the Mediterranean Sea is rising each year and Venice is sinking with every year. This is not about being cynical, but conscious of the fact that we are part and parcel of what is happening with the world we live in.

The Venice Biennale runs 11 May – 24 November