2019 Kiila / The Wedge – Feminist Archive2023-10-31T17:17:48+02:00

Kiila Feminist Archive (The Wedge)

Kiila / The Wedge is archive as artwork, which is based on a study of the early years (~1936-1939) of an 80 years old and still active artists’ and writers’ association in Finland, Kiila. The English meaning of Kiila is the ‘wedge’. The compiled archive brings to the forefront the feminist issues at the core of founding of Kiila, which have since then been ignored in its history-writing.

The association was founded in 1936. Its founding was greatly influenced by the International Congress of Writers “for the Defence of Culture” in Paris in 1935, which was a reaction to burning of books in Nazi-Germany. In Finland the political climate at the time was also fascist, the communist activities were banned by law and the national artists’ associations were ruled by supporters of the right-wing. During World War II 40 % of Kiila members were imprisoned. Also the archives of Kiila from its founding until 1944 have gone missing.

Kiila has throughout its existence stood for leftist ideas and has been influential in representing leftist artistic positions. Four out of seven founding members of Kiila were women: sisters Aira and Elvi Sinervo, Tyyne Maija Salminen and Katri Vala. Also many other female writers and critics were active in the early years of the organisation. After the war the history of Kiila was written by its notable male members. With compiling the archive of Kiila, the aim has been to observe the connections of socialism and feminism in collective organising of artists and cultural workers.

The work includes audio-discussions with several currently active female members of Kiila association on topics emerging from close readings of literature by the early Kiila members. The themes are: ‘Diamond Laws’ in Iris Uurto’s Literature; ways of marginalisation; leftism and feminism; histories and herstories; resistance to sexual objectification; traditions as status quo; ‘Diamond Laws’ in feminist organising today; language of political art.

The work was initially made for exhibition ‘Dark Energy. Feminist Organizing, Working Collectively’ in Vienna, curated by Véronique Boilard, Andrea Haas, Nina Höchtl and Julia Wieger. It has since then been exhibited in Project Space Maa-tila, Helsinki, in the exhibiition Little did they know, Guest Program of EVA International – Ireland’s Biennial of Contemporary Art 2020, Limerick, 2021, in Editorial Tables: Reciprocal Hospitalities, The Showroom, London, 2023, and parts of it in Together Again Festival in Helsinki in September 2023.


Access here Resonance FM discussion, The Workplace programme hosted by Patricia Vincent on 28. March 2023. Reading excerpt by Sabrina Fuller.

Access here Resonance FM discussion, with Lily Hall, about Kiila Feminist Archive at the Together Again Festival, the Micro Clear Spot hosted by Patricia Vincent on 7. September 2023. Excerpts read by Martta Tuomaala and Shubhangi Singh. Music by Vladislav Delay Quartet.

Access here draft document of the bibliography in progress: The early years of Kiila, 1936-1945.