Fire & Rescue Museum

28 Feb

Jussi Kivi, Alam Center, Ohio 1971

Jussi Kivi’s Fire & Rescue Museum shows, among other things, the artist’s extensive collection of firefighting memorabilia. The origins of Kivi’s museum lie in his childhood passion for firefighting and in his lifelong pursuit of objects connected with it. On the one hand, Fire & Rescue Museum reminds us of the traditional view that the separation of man from animal – the beginning of culture – coincides with our ability to extinguish fire and to bend it to our will. As a natural element, fire represents the museum’s – the archive’s – most serious threat. In that sense, a museum devoted to firefighting is a museum devoted to culture as pure preservation and defense. Here, fire – understood as a destructive force – can have no place because it threatens the archive at its very foundations. Yet in basing his museum on a private, idiosyncratic childhood passion, Kivi also hints that without fire – without little Jussi’s devotion to firefighting – there would be no collection, and hence no culture. Collections, in fact, are all about fire: their owners tirelessly pursue the one elusive piece that would complete the set once and for all, and extinguish the fire that keeps them searching. And yet, to find that piece is a moment the collector both eagerly awaits and dreads at the same time. For in the collection’s closure she inevitably reads her own death (the absence of heat). (Text by Sven Spieker, Framework)

Collecting is to a great degree irrational – even when it revolves around something as strongly symbolic of order and control as firefighting. Kivi has collected objects related to firefighting almost all his life. He has also shown the collection he named the ‘Fire Museum’ at his studio, although only to a selected circle of friends and, even then, somewhat self-ironically. He preferred to keep the material half hidden behind the shelves in his studio. Kivi himself has said that irony is his only defense against the role of manic collector and buff. Before this work and context of display, the collection was not about art. In Kivi’s thinking art was linked to something that was real in the world.  (Text by Jonni Roos, Framework)

 About the Museum

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