Ville Lenkkeri is a visual artist living in Stockholm. In recent years, he has held several exhibitions at the Serlachius Museums in Mänttä. While these exhibitions have been seemingly documentary, their premise has been experimental. Lenkkeri has a conceptual and questioning approach to documentarism.
In Helsinki, Ville Lenkkeri’s artworks were last seen on display in Kiasma’s collection exhibition Reality Bites. This new exhibition at Gallery Halmetoja is titled Private Collection. The title refers to Lenkkeri’s working process, where he uses his camera to gather his own collection from the storages of medical museums. He has documented problematic historical refuse such as anatomical models saved by the museums, many of which are both redundant and questionable in terms of content.
These preserved problem cases come together to form an exhibition that speaks volumes about the history of museums. As western museums have served as nations’ memories, Lenkkeri’s collection ultimately depicts the way people perceive the world in quite an extensive time frame.
This exhibition boldly dives past the exhibition halls into the backrooms of the museums, looking at those parts of the storage collections that in today’s perspective might seem inappropriate and aesthetically corny. The atmosphere of the exhibition is intimate, but also distressing and surreal. At times, the viewer tends to question if Lenkkeri is being truthful. Has he actually discovered this world that he now presents as his collection? Still, compared to his previous exhibition, these photographs are more straightforwardly factual. There is no reason not to believe them.
The exhibition is divided into two spaces, one resembling a storage room and the other an actual exhibition room. Their different rhythms and displays accentuate the duality of the museum philosophy. Audience development and exhibitions are merely slivers in the sea of collections. The ultimate job of museums is to serve as a memory, to document and to preserve. Museum collections cannot be short-sightedly disposed of; one cannot be sure of what parts and artifacts in a collection might be interesting in the future, even if they may currently seem uninteresting. This is why museum storages are full of treasures well suited to Lenkkeri’s private collection.