‘Hidden’ is an exhibition and a study of fascism in Finnish history consisting of different elements that I have come across, in which fascism is concealed.
The starting point for the installation has been a landscape painting that I inherited some years ago from my grandmother. When I took the painting – that is very familiar to me ever since my childhood – off the wall I saw the Nazi stamp behind it. It is probable that E. Janatuinen, a relatively unknown landscape painter and recorder of the Oulu milieu, used the sack with the Nazi stamp merely as material for his painting, not necessarily aiming at conveying hidden messages of the Nazi ideology behind it. Nevertheless, he didn’t paint over the sign, but left it there. So did the frame maker, and my grandmother… And so have I done too!
Since I got the painting I have been thinking of how to deal with it, and with the underlying hidden fascism that exists in it. This exhibition is an attempt to do that by showing that the painting is not an accidental occurrence, but similar cases can be found everywhere.
The first crossword puzzle in Finland was published in 1925 in weekly Suomen Kuvalehti. The author has remained unknown, but used ‘Suometar’ as the pseudonym. During the Second World War in the crossword puzzles in The Daily Telegraph there appeared secret code names of the planned landing sites of the ‘Overlord’ operation of the Allied Forces. In the crossword puzzles of Suomen Kuvalehti from the same era there are also double meanings, but these are playfully disguised in the visual forms and are relatively apparent.
Marshall Mannerheim’s position as the national hero of Finland is disputed due to his strong political Rightist position – and even possible sympathies with fascism – of which is speaking his cruel operations in the leadership of the Whites in the 1918 Finnish Civil War, and connection to Nazi-Germany and Adolf Hitler during the Second World War. Wilhelm Reich in his book Mass Psychology of Fascism, 1933, is referring to Mannerheim as one of the European leaders of national dictatorship-states. What is surprising is that in the Finnish translation of the book, as late as 1982, Erkki Puranen has added a translator’s note after the sentence reminding the Finnish readers to have reservations toward this view.
These three cases each have a dual relation toward fascism: it is not directly announced, but it is present. They are about showing and hiding at the same time.
The exhibition consists of the particular page of Mass Psychology of Fascism by Wilhem Reich, where he mentions Mannerheim; framed oil painting by E. Janatuinen from 1949 that I inherited from my late grandmother; and all crossword puzzles in the Suomen Kuvalehti journal between the years 1939 and 1944, scanned from microfilms in the National Library and presented in chronological order.