Between Light and Darkness

International Symposium on Fin-de-siècle Symbolism

9th -10th December 2010, Ateneum Art Museum, Helsinki

During his years in Paris, [Magnus] Enckell dreamed of an ancient pagan temple, its ruins still suffused with intense yet imprecise feelings and thoughts: “empty dreams and melancholy thoughts perhaps for those who step in from the outside, out of the sunlight; yet for those already inside, everything still appears as in the days when people gathered to worship the temple.” He felt himself to be the guardian of this temple, moving from room to room, penetrating ever farther into the building, suffering on every threshold for each thing he had to abandon. “But in me remains the certain hope that one day all will be regained. When we have reached the innermost sanctum, then suddenly the barriers will crumble. Everything will be revealed to our eyes and restored to our hearts. Time will no longer exist.”

(Salme Sarajas-Korte, “The Finnish View of Symbolist Painting: From Antinoüs Myth to Kalevala Mysticism”.  In Lost Paradise: Symbolist Europe, 1995)

The symposium Between Light and Darkness brings together scholars from different academic fields with an interest in Symbolism and fin-de-siècle art and culture. The purpose of this interdisciplinary event is to initiate discussions and shed new light on questions of religion, mysticism, and subjectivity in Symbolist art and theory, and on the fin-de-siècle relationship between art and science, considering also the ways in which the Symbolist influence has continued after the fin-de-siècle period. The symposium is organized in honour of Professor Salme Sarajas-Korte, who has been a pioneering researcher in this field.

Between Light and Darkness is produced as collaboration by the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, the Department of Art History at the University of Helsinki, the Society for Art History in Finland, and the Ateneum Art Museum – Finnish National Gallery, which hosts an important collection of Symbolist art. Additional funding has been provided by the Finnish Cultural Foundation.

Symposium programme

Photo Gallery