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Leevi Haapala

Born September 24, 1972, Keuruu

Master of Arts (art history, museology, cultural history) 1997, University of Turku
PhD (art history) 2012, University of Helsinki

Museum Director 2015–, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Professor of Praxis 2014–15, Academy of Fine Arts/University of the Arts
Acting Chief Curator of Collections, amanuensis and member of the acquisitions committee 2007–2014, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art
Researcher 1997–2007, Central Art Archives/ Finnish National Gallery
Civilian national service 1994–95, Museum of Contemporary Art

Jury member for the Ars Fennica Award 2015–
Board member of the Kiasma Foundation 2015–
Board member of the Pro Arte Foundation and member of the working group for the IHME Contemporary Art Festival 2008–15
Member of the expert group for Young Artist of the Year, Tampere Art Museum 2012­–15

Photo: National Gallery/Pirje Mykkänen
Written by Olli Siitonen

Translated by Matthew Billington

ARCO 2014 Madrid

Leevi Haapala was appointed curator of #FocusFinland, the Finnish programme at the ARCOmadrid 2014 art fair in Madrid. Finland was the focus country of the fair, and it is still the most extensive export project ever undertaken for Finnish art. Several of the most notable art galleries in Finland and more than 20 artists were represented. As the curator, Dr Haapala had the duty of selecting the participating galleries and artists in cooperation with the galleries. The project was coordinated by Frame Visual Art Finland, an organisation for the promotion of Finnish art on the global scene. In addition to the fair, Finnish contemporary art was on display in fifteen venues and events around Madrid.

“ARCO 2014 was a grand march of Finnish contemporary art in Madrid and a great project all round. We gained good exposure. Kiasma had its own lounge at the fair and we fitted out the Finnish embassy from our collections.”

The then Crown Prince, now King Felipe, and his wife Letizia visited the ARCOmadrid fair together with Mr Paavo Arhinmäki, the then Finnish Minister of Culture and Sport. The royal entourage had a strict schedule; there were about 30 attendants with security and the press buzzing around.

“We had to draw up the exact route for the royal party beforehand. It was important to know where to stop and who to talk with. The whole time they were there, cameras were flashing.”

Dr Haapala presented an installation by the IC-98 artist duo to the royal couple in a dark exhibition room.

“It was fascinating to meet such consummate representatives. They were able to become interested in a topic in a heartbeat and be really present for as long as necessary. I noticed royalist fantasies suddenly blooming in my mind. It was intriguing to notice things that as the product of a democracy I had never even considered. The aura created around royalty is really something special.”

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