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is the 20th anniversary publication of The Finnish Institute in London edited by Raija Koli with Olli-Matti Nykänen and Suvi Kukkonen.
Reaktio is a publication series launched in December 2011 to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of The Finnish Institute in London. The books in this series are reactions to contemporary critical issues, they pose questions and offer commentary. These books contain seeds for debate and provoke action; they are books to think with and books to act on. At the back of the book we have left space for you to make your own notes. What do you think? —Raija Koli, Series Editor
To Michael Branch
Edited by Raija Koli, Olli-Matti Nykänen and Suvi Kukkonen Graphic design by Åh, www.ah-studio.com Translations by Katja Sauvola and Lotta Palin Special thanks to Hanna Harris Published by The Finnish Institute in London 35–36 Eagle Street, London WC1R 4AQ www.finnish-institute.org.uk © Copyright 2011 Finnish Institute in London and authors. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission of the authors. Printed by GB Litho, London 2011 Edition of 500 ISBN: 978-0-9570776-0-7
Part One—Not a History
2011: Strangers ≠ Collaborators by Raija Koli 1991: A Year of Change by Juhana Aunesluoma The Story So Far The People So Far
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Tuula Arkio Iiris Autio Jonathan Bland Kati Blom Anna-Riikka Carlson Centrifugal Mark Cosgrove Polly Eldridge Taru Elfving Jarmo Eskelinen Ben Evans Una Feely Moira Gemmill Manick Govinda Brian Groombridge Klaus Haapaniemi Maija Hirvanen Sarah Ichioka Riitta Ikonen Suvi Innilä Tuomas Kallio Noel Kelly Kari Korkman Jukka-Pekka Laakso Kaisa Leka Robyn Marsack Graham Mckenzie Pirjetta Mulari
26 28 30 31 32 34 39 40 42 44 46 47 48 50 52 54 56 58 60 62 64 66 68 70 71 72 74 76
Jone Nuutinen OK Do Kimmo Pohjonen Claire Power Gary Pulsifer Anne Raudaskoski Jani Ruscica Emmi Salonen Pirkko Siitari Laura Sillars Aamu Song Uta Staiger Mike Stubbs Mika Taanila Tuija Talvitie Minna Tarkka Jimi Tenor Heidi Tikka Salla Tykkä Anna Vartiainen Nathan Waterhouse Åh Connected Translocalities by Eric Kluitenberg P.S. by Sirkka Heinonen About Us
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is the 20th anniversary publication of The Finnish Institute in London edited by Raija Koli with Olli-Matti Nykänen and Suvi Kukkonen. In Part One we highlight what we do and look back at a particular time in European history.
PArt one—NOT A HISTORY
Part One—Not a History
2011: Strangers ≠ Collaborators
by Raija Koli
“Movement no longer means travelling from point to point on the surface of the globe, but crossing universes of problems, livid worlds, landscapes of meaning.” —Pierre Lévy, Collective Intelligence, 1997
If you look up the word encounter in a Thesaurus, you will be met by a whole host of words that are quite contradictory in meaning. Some veer to the violent, others seem haphazard and some are quite determined. Bump into, chance upon, come upon, confront, experience, face, happen on or upon, meet, run across, run into, attack, clash with, combat, come into conf lict with, contend, cross swords with, do battle with, engage, fight, grapple with, strive, struggle, brush, confrontation, meeting, action, battle, clash, collision, combat, conf lict, contest, dispute, engagement, fight, run-in. I am in a profession that is geared to engineering encounters, manufacturing them: I am in the business of meetings. Many encounters are serendipitous but not all encounters are accidental. Serendipity translates to a happy accident: it is a contradiction in terms, which is always an intriguing starting point to any adventure.
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Looking back at the work of the Finnish Institute in London, one thing seems constant: the desire to expand the circle of friends; the desire to create encounters. In the following I am outlining five aspects that define our work.
1. Not for Profit Encounters lead to meetings: those derided, abused, waste-of-timers which actually are quite essential and necessary however unecological they may be. A meeting is about people: we set up meetings with people who are the people we propose to work with, or people who know someone who know someone we might work with, people who lead us to the right people, but always to people.
meetings give us an opportunity to explore different parts of London and to understand this city and the way it works. They also take us to other parts of England, to Scotland, Wales and Ireland and they take us back home to Finland. Our meetings leave traces of places within us and these long and short travels give us time to think. The word meeting contains a trace of planning and organisation. Encounters can involve lunch or wine or tea, but a meeting seems to include an agenda or a proposal. Meetings take us into early stages of commitment. When we ask for a meeting, we have an idea in mind. When people come to meet us, they have proposals. In terms of accountability, these meetings are difficult. You spend time getting there and then you sit and talk. You read agendas, proposals, discuss ideas, funding and production, PR operations or artists’ merits. You meet again, and again, hone your proposal which is emerging into a plan, and you rewrite, redraw, travel back and forth. Some projects take years to plan and produce, others require (from me) only the signature on a check. Check writing seems much more efficient as it is less time consuming, but it doesn’t give me much apart from the seat at the opening party dinner. In terms of indicators, the cheque option seems better: supporting an exhibition at a gallery with 1000 pounds. Drinks at the opening. The meeting option seems less efficient: 1000 hours spent
Meetings take us out of our comfort zone and out of our house. Some meetings are well planned in advance, some happen quite unexpectedly, some never seem to happen at all. These
producing the HEL YES! design exhibition for the London Design Festival. Also spent 200.000 pounds on same exhibition. However, beside drinks at the opening you have a whole network of partners and collaborators and new doors have opened. Art, culture and research are not-for-profit. They cannot be measured in profitable terms until we can measure the profitability of meeting other people and of working together to create a new idea, a concept that did not exist before. This has been the thrill of working in London: the opportunities and the people who are willing to work with us.
2. Failure An encounter is a risk: people might not like my idea. And there are so many other hinders: lack of time, money, energy, a common language, a spark of recognition. Then there is the fear of rejection, of failure, of loss of face, although the only failure would be not to knock on that door, not to open up a space to see what lies beyond my own familiar landscape.
Nest 2010. Photo: Mike Massaro
It’s one thing to fail at home but quite another to fail when working abroad. Of course, one of the great advantages of not working at home in familiar surroundings is that you can’t see how difficult some things can be. You begin a project and problems that are self-evident to locals don’t exist for you. Yet. So you sit on the roof of your office
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building and think that it would be exciting for young international students of architecture to use that space to create something unique. You also think that it could be a great way to enhance that particular spot of London. The professor at the university is excited, the students are excited, you are excited. Meetings happen, travel occur, the roof is measured, photographed, discussed and power pointed. More travel, a lunch, two dinners, several text messages and emails. You have 12 proposals for a pergola for your roof: each one lovingly made in a scale miniature, from wood. Juries meet, a winner is selected, work on what is to become The Nest begins. Architectural drawings, photographs and written proposals are submitted to Camden Council. Eight weeks later, on time, we receive notice that we will not get planning permission. Later, at the inauguration of The Nest at quite another site, in a lovely urban pop-up garden at the Architecture Festival, a local architect tells me that he never applies for planning permits: he always uses a consultancy to do this. However: without the naivety of thinking that the roof was ours to use in ways that it might be at home there would not have been a Nest and without the Nest we would never have collaborated with The Architecture Foundation and they would not have partnered us with the brilliant Urban Orchard on Union Street. And now we are working on another project with The Architecture Foundation to partner young architects from Finland and the UK.
Sometimes ignorance is bliss and failure a door to unexpected opportunities.
3. Making Times change and if you are clever and don’t resist that change, you can change too. The Institute has worked throughout the years to establish networks and partnerships. The role of facilitator has proven to provide a much larger scope of projects and contacts and opportunities than would be possible by producing events by ourself at our own house on Eagle Street. But sometimes facilitating isn’t enough. You know what your goal is and if you are clever enough you realise that you have to change your way of thinking and doing to achieve that goal. So out goes the role of facilitator and we resume travelling and meeting and start commissioning and producing instead. We join the forces that make.
We wanted to make a design event for the London Design Festival that would be a place where people would spend time. A place for encounters, a place where people normally would meet even if we would only be able to set it up for a limited time. In a moment of serendipity we found partners with a passion to match our enthusiasm and who helped us do just that. So, in 2010 we DIYed a restaurant— HEL YES!—and this year we DIYed a concert hall—REDDRESS— for the London Design Festival.
HEL YES! 2010. Photo: Adam Laycock
REDDRESS 2011. Photo: Kate Elliott
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Turning from full-time facilitator to part-time producer brought us closer to the brilliant people who work with us. We all became part of an unforgettable process that will reverberate in minds and practices of people for a long time to come. We also believe in copying. Some people call it best practices. You see something, think it might work and start introducing it across the sea to people who don’t know what it is. It may be an idea, a way of doing things, a system. This is how The Hub landed in Finland: In 2009 we felt that the time was ripe for Finland to join an international network of social innovators. The Hub is a network of spaces across four continents and twelve cities that offers tools, contacts and a platform for people that want to solve global problems. It is a cross between a private members club and an office hotel. Hub’s attraction is based around the idea that it brings together people from small and medium sized businesses, NGO’s, funding organisations and government bodies—the uniting factor is willingness to bring about positive change. So we created a pop-up Hub for a week in Helsinki: a space to imagine a hub and to create one at the same time. And we weren’t wrong: now there are 3 Hubs in Finland: one in Tampere, Helsinki and Jyväskylä.
4. p2p Inter-nationalism—between nations or countries—is n2n or c2c. The idea is that what we have is somehow miraculously born right here, in this place we inhabit without any outside assistance or inf luence, without a single peek over the border to where the others live. In art and culture, however, it rarely is c2c, but p2p: between people who inhabit these spaces, people who might work in organisations related to the fields we mine—as in business-tobusiness—but might not, and even if they are, it is still always the people we look for, find and collaborate with. In the end, only people ever do things. We are not in the business of building an image of a Finland that could compete in the noisy marketplace of nations. We are in the business of building bridges so that people can meet, exchange ideas and develop their work in spite of nations, despite borders and passport
The imagined community of the Finnish Institute is formed of more than a thousand people who during these past twenty odd years have come together in various combinations to talk, think and work together, to meet and collaborate, to create spaces where innovation and creation prosper. Some of them have been
controls and currencies. We are in the business of facilitating creation, movement, change and transformation. Benedict Anderson once described the nation state as an imagined community: imagined because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion; and a community, because, regardless of the actual inequality and exploitation that may prevail in each, the nation is always conceived of as deep, horizontal comradeship.
employed by the Institute, some have supported its work. Others have opened their doors for strangers to walk in, while some have walked in through those doors to foreign territories to expand their own networks and their own thinking. Like the populations of Benedict Anderson’s nations, all of them have never met each other, but all of them form part of a comradeship of collaborators across the sea that divides the British Isles from Finland.
5. Openness Encounters require mobility, a moving about that is not on autopilot along the same routes, same streets to the same people. It is getting off of your comfort zone. It is a proposal to form a community, to join forces and to head off in a new direction, to map new territories. You can email and facebook and tweet and blog to your hearts content but the fact remains that messages between strangers did not build HEL YES! in London or the Hub in Helsinki. An encounter to meet with the intention of forming a partnership is a tentative reaching out, a dance if you will, to feel each other out. Who is this stranger knocking on my door, selling me something I didn’t know existed; praying on that most precious of resources: my time. Demanding my attention, invading my space and inviting me to theirs. Or, the other way around: having an idea, sometimes even just an inkling of an idea, a possibility, a hunch, a glimpse of some brilliant
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opportunity; an insight that this particularly placed stranger might prove to be the key to the lock I am carrying and together we will be able to open invisible doors to hidden opportunities that only joint forces can find and open. The more uncertain the world seems, the more important it is to explore it, to see which ways it bends and how it can be made to suit us better. At 20 years, we are now venturing into new territories while visiting some old ones.
Raija Koli is the director of The Finnish Institute in London
1991: A Year of Change
by Juhana Aunesluoma
Nineteen ninety-one did not start well. All over the world news rooms were f looded with images that seemed like a blast from the past. The machines had not been seen in action for a while, but the pictures had never really been forgotten: Soviet tanks rolling over protesting civilians in an old central European city.
Unexpected End Only weeks and months ago, Europe, and much of the world, had seemed to have entered a new brighter era. The Cold War, which had plagued world politics since the 1940s, had ended. The two Germanies, divided into the eastern and western parts, had been reunified in the autumn of 1990. First elections for the joint Bundestag had taken place in a f lurry of optimism, and the whole country was bristling with energy directed to national reconstruction. All along central Europe socialist regimes had imploded in 1989 giving way to popular, democratic elected leaders and parliaments in countries such as Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary.
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The Soviet Union had been changing, too. Mikhail Gorbachev’s rise to power in 1985 had started a period of economic and political reforms, which transformed the socialist superpower from within. The reforms took unexpected turns, however, and led to unintended consequences. As the Cold War ended the Soviet Union lost its empire in a rapid succession of events and much of its inf luence in world affairs. Its economy fell into a downward spiral, and nationalist movements raised their head in the Soviet republics. The acceleration of centrifugal forces within the multinational empire was epitomised by the defiant declaration of independence of Lithuania in March 1990, and similar movements towards independence in the other two Baltic States. By 1990 it was clear that Gorbachev’s reforms had backfired and his own position had weakened dangerously in the face of conservative opponents aiming to restore the Soviet Union to its previous leadership position. At the end of 1990, Soviet Union’s foreign minister Eduard Shevardnadze resigned. Having provided the face and the voice of the new, opening and reforming Soviet Union and its conciliatory foreign policy, he left President Mikhail Gorbachev’s cabinet with an ominous forewarning: ‘the Soviet Union is headed towards a dictatorship’. The Baltics were adamant with their drive towards independence. On 11–13 January 1991, things came to a head in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. Soviet army units were deployed to force the recalcitrant republic and its citizens back to the fold. Thousands of Lithuanians filed the streets and key locations in large scale protests. In the ensuing violence 14 civilians were killed and more than 1000 injured, rammed by tanks or shot by special army units. The outside world watched the events with disbelief. Condemnation of the use of force against unarmed civilians was not restricted to western nations, but critical voices were raised within the crumbling Soviet Union too. President Gorbachev and military leaders in Moscow sought to distance themselves from the events, but the damage had been done.
From Cold War to Hot Economy In Finland, developments in the Soviet Union were followed with anxiety. Violence and unrest in the Baltic States had never boded well for Finland. But Finland faced trouble also on other fronts.
The late 1980s and the end of the Cold War had been years of relief for many Finns. By 1990 it had seemed that the shadow of the Cold War and the legacies of the wars that preceded it, were finally left behind. In September 1990, Finland unilaterally lifted the restrictions on the size and equipment of its military forces and defensive capabilities that had been imposed upon it in the 1947 Paris peace treaty. For many, this, if anything, heralded the end of the Cold War for Finland, and the final end of the ramifications of its sovereignty the Second World War had brought in its wake. As a further sign that times were changing, some Finnish enthusiasts even began to speculate about Finland’s joining the ultimate westerners’ club, the European Community, soon to be known as the European Union. Finland had followed European integration from the sidelines since the 1950s. The Soviet Union watched Finland’s extensive trade and cultural relations with its western arch-enemies with suspicion, and had barred the country from participating in the developing institutions of Western European integration. In the spring of 1989, after years of hesitation, Finland joined the Council of Europe. It was an organization that had been established after the Second World War to advance human rights and democratic principles in Europe. Despite the fact that it was not a part of the European Community, for many, Finland’s membership in it was a step towards the west that soon would be followed by other, more significant moves. Finland had been opening up and changing in other ways too. The 1980s was a decade of rapid industrial and economic change in Finland. The state’s direct intervention in and the regulation of the economy and business life was loosened. This coincided with rising living standards and noticeable changes in the Finnish way of life. The final years of the decade were marked by a new type of consumerism and a spending spree Finns had previously seen in Hollywood films and TV-shows. Finnish businesses were eager to grasp these opportunities. During a prolonged economic boom, Finnish companies expanded and invested abroad in unforeseen ways. Finnish companies and investors became players in the European and global stage of foreign direct and portfolio investments, mergers and acquisitions, takeovers, financing operations and the like. Capital f lowed in and out of the country as never before.
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Ordinary Finns experienced the transformation in their own homes and houses as their prices soared. Deregulation of financial markets in Finland caused a credit expansion and a housing market boom that made some Finns rich, some to feel as if they were, and almost everybody in the game deeply in debt. Old structures fell apart everywhere. Nokia, a prominent but somewhat old fashioned Finnish industrial conglomerate (est. 1865), manufacturing almost anything from tissue paper and car tyres to television sets, rose to prominence in Europe as a consumer goods and communication technology giant. Expansion in Europe in the 1980s, the work of a new and dynamic management team, laid the groundwork for the phenomenal success of Nokia in the late 1990s, when it refocused itself to become a global mobile communications technology leader. The internationalisation of Finnish businesses and the economy in the 1980s was a part of a wider and a much longer process of economic change. For a long time, Finland had been a relatively underdeveloped corner of the industrialised world, with the majority of the population still in the 1950s acquiring their livelihoods from low productivity agriculture. But then an economic growth engine was fired up, and in a unique process that still wants its full explanation by economic historians, Finland in a relatively short span of time caught up with the rest of the industrial west. Since the 1960s, Finland’s economic growth figures consistently surpassed those of other advanced market economies, most notably and visibly its western neighbour’s Sweden’s. The gap between living standards, so acutely felt still in the 1970s, narrowed down, and eventually disappeared altogether as the century draw to a close.
Creative Chaos Finns embraced the optimistic, expansionist and forward looking 1980s as anyone in the world. Suddenly Finland and Finns seemed able to compete with and challenge countries, companies and players in fields where this would have been unimaginable a decade before. Not only businessmen, but also Finnish artists, scientists, sportsmen and cultural personae across the board found the world a much more level playing field for them than it had been. In the beginning of the 1990s, the years of confidence, however,
When 1991 began, Finland’s economy was in a freefall that eventually took it into its history’s worst peacetime economic crisis.
Its gross domestic product shrank by several percent per year until autumn 1993, when recovery began. Unemployment rose to almost 20 percent, and government borrowing skyrocketed. Public sector debt rose to more than 65 percent of gross domestic product, then an unthinkably high figure. If compared with the average of 10 percent it had been in the 1980s, this indeed was so. Finland’s financial and banking sector nearly collapsed, with some banks surviving only with massive government support or nationalization. Bankruptcies increased in 1991 by 70 percent. Good and bad businesses were wiped away in a whirlwind of ‘creative destruction’, as it was later dubbed by some analysts. The Finnish currency markka was momentarily devalued by almost 50 percent against the European currency unit ecu. Even after the crises, markka remained some 25 percent below its previous external value. The destruction, none the less, also seeded the successes that ultimately would come. Structures of the Finnish economy and society were turned upside down and stirred in a way that made room for new ideas and practices, for new businesses and economic growth. At the time the social price of these changes appeared unbearable. Continuing investments in the foundations of Finnish culture, education, the
came to an abrupt halt. As eyes were set on the endgames of the Cold War, German reunification, Finland’s emergence from the shadow of its eastern neighbour and its new-found prosperity, the Finnish economy took a turn to the worse. The first signs that something was seriously wrong in the Finnish economy became visible in 1990. Export industries and businesses involved in international operations observed a downward turn in world markets. The first warnings remained unheeded, however, and Finns prepared for the 1990s as if the upswing would last forever. The expansionistic 1980s had left the companies’ balance sheets in a poor shape. High levels of indebtedness made them vulnerable when the recession finally hit the Finnish economy in 1991. Making matters worse, Finland’s previously lucrative trade arrangements with the Soviet Union came to a sudden end in December 1990, mainly due to the dissolving superpower’s own chaotic economic condition.
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scientific infrastructure and research and development, ensured that when the storm was over and new opportunities were at hand, Finland was well prepared.
New Neighbour In 1991 Finns, however, glared at the abyss. To make matters worse, Finland’s external political and strategic environment had become much more challenging than it had been. The Finnish President Mauno Koivisto, was particularly worried about the direction where the unrest of January 1991 and ascendant nationalist forces in the Soviet Union might lead it. Nationalists were on the rise not only in the fringes, but in the Soviet heartland Russia too, and the president was old enough —or had read widely enough—to understand what that might mean. Banking his faith on the success of Gorbachev and his reforms, the President feared that would have been the alternative was a Soviet Union sliding into a civil war. This would unavoidably have repercussions to Finland too. It made him lukewarm to Baltic aspirations of independence, something he has been criticized for. In August 1991 it seemed that the President’s worst fears were coming true. In the morning of 19 August news arrived that Gorbachev’s conservative opponents had seized power in Moscow and had arrested him. As the Finnish government pondered on how to deal with the situation, men and women on the spot acted. Estonians, among others in the Soviet Union, would have none of it, and proclaimed their independence. As independence had been declared already in 1918, there was no need to ‘declare’ it now. In two weeks Estonia would be recognized again as an independent country, and Soviet troops would withdraw from its soil. In Moscow the Russian Federation’s President Boris Yeltsin challenged the clique behind the coup d’état and quickly turned the military on his side. Everything was over in a couple of days and the perpetrators behind lock and key, but Russia and the rest of the soon-to-be-ex-Soviet Union no longer were the same. Gorbachev was released from his house arrest, but his authority and credibility lost, could not return to the apex of power. Events followed each other in late summer and autumn 1991 in rapid succession, starting from the outlawing of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in August, and
ending in December with the dissolution of the Soviet Union itself. This was certainly much more than anyone outside the country would have bargained for at the beginning of the year. As the coup failed, Finns were just as relieved as most Europeans, but the pace of events was unsettling. In spite of all uncertainty and fears of As the Soviet Union receded into history, so did its special relationship with Finland. The symbol of Soviet hegemony and Finland’s adaptation to the status quo, the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance from 1948, was terminated at the end of the year. In its place became a largely ceremonial treaty of cooperation with the Russian federation. A new chapter opened in the Finnish-Russian relations.
continuing instability and the rise of Russian nationalism, the end of the Soviet Union was a definite turning point in Finnish history.
Go West! At the end of 1991 something that had started in 1917 was coming to end. However, what made the end of 1991 so significant in Finnish history was not just what happened in Russia. A new era in the history
of the Finnish state was beginning: The European era.
Finns followed the last phases of the life of the Soviet Union with mixed feelings, but looking to the west did not at first seem to give much more comfort. As Germany was unified and a formidable economic and political force in the middle of the continent, the European Community was transforming itself into a political union. Diverse motivations led the member states to lead it in that direction. But a need to contain Germany and strengthen the structures of the union before a large group of new members would join it, were powerful driving forces behind what came to be known as the Maastricht treaty, named after the European Council summit held at Maastricht in December 1991. The Maastricht treaty of 1992 established the European Union. In addition to a closer political union the treaty included a blueprint to deepen the economic union as well and transform the common market into a full-blown economic and monetary union. It would have a central bank and a common currency. Somewhat surprisingly, all this was realized by the turn of the century. Finns had aspired to keep in step with European economic
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integration with an array of special arrangements to access the European markets, but now the community was going in a direction where only full members could follow it. Finns now knew that a decision had to be made soon about whether to seek full membership in the union or not. Among European Cold War neutrals, Austria had already declared its willingness to join the community in 1989. In autumn 1990 the Swedish government followed suit. This took the Finnish political leadership by surprise, and created a somewhat tense atmosphere for a while between the governments. As long as the Soviet Union existed, Finland could not possibly follow the other neutrals so lightly. Sweden was felt to have forced Finland’s hand, and possibly would leave it alone as the only Nordic country outside the community as also Norway was looking to the same direction as Sweden was. Hence a sense of uneasiness that a difficult decision was about to be made, but also a deeply felt feeling of being left alone, overshadowed much of 1991. Paradoxically, the Moscow conspirators of August relieved the Finnish leadership from their pain. The events in themselves, but in particular the quick decline of Soviet power, unexpectedly freed the Finnish government to do what it really wanted, and the Finnish people to choose the direction they themselves thought their nation should go. In late autumn 1991 the Finnish government decided that the time was ripe to seek European Union membership. Between August and December, principal figures from different parties and opinion leaders came out in the open and declared their views regarding membership. Lastly, the President himself, as the year 1992 began, affirmed his positive views as well. In a matter of months a new kind
of consensus emerged that Finland should go and find out how life might be inside, and not outside, the EU.
To realise that goal dominated much of the political life of Finland between 1992 and 1994. The process culminated in the referendum of October 1994, where 57 percent of Finns voted for the membership. Finland became a member of the union in the beginning of 1995. Still an independent country, its position had changed so much in the political map of Europe that 1995 became just as important a year in Finnish history as 1917. But 1995 did not come about as a surprise, as the important decisions and the radical changes had already
been taken or had happened four years before. People living the year 1991 could not of course see where they would be in 1995. The outcome would surely have been a surprise, logical though it was.
An age of uncertainty had begun, but it was also an age of opportunities. To find out what all these were and meant, was one of the new tasks the Finnish Institutes—the London Institute among them—were set out to do. What came to pass on that road of discovery, unfolds in the chapters that follow.
Juhana Aunesluoma is the director of the Network for European Studies and adjunct professor in political history at the University of Helsinki.
Changes Create Opportunities Nineteen ninety-one had not started well. In many respects, it ended a lot better than the events in the beginning augured. Physically, Finland’s place on the map of Europe and the world had not changed. But the map itself had changed, and with it, Finland’s location. The map of Europe had been redrawn, and Finland was no longer where it used to be: next to the Soviet Union. Finland had new neighbours to the east and to the south, old Russia and old Estonia. But neither was Finland in the hearts and minds of people where it had been. As 1991 came to a close, Finland’s location and direction was still shrouded in a mist. No-one knew exactly where it was, nor what the political and societal changes in Europe and in the world meant, and how the Finns’ relations with other people and the connexions of Finnish culture with the rest of the world would develop.
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The People So Far
Paulina Ahokas Sofia Aittomaa Hanna Alén Maria Antas Seija Astala Roy Allison David Arter Erik Allardt Anni Alaja
Mona Berg Maria Blässer
Michael Branch Anthony Bowne Marianne Collander Arna Davies Päivi Ekdahl Riitta Eskelinen Tuula Gordon Brian Groombridge
Esko Haavisto Stina Halmetoja
Matti Gustafson Annika Grönholm
Hildi Hawkins Veijo Hietala
Silja Heikkilä Laura Helle
Vuokko Härmä Heli Ignatius-Fleet
Heli Hirvonen Eveliina Hujanen
Tytti Isohookana-Asuinmaa Stuart Johnson Tuomas Järvi Alexandra Jones Minka Kailu Anna Kaila Heikki Kallio Mikko Kari
Antti Karjalainen Minna Katermaa
Anna-Liisa Kasurinen Neil Kent Toivo Katila
Seppo Kimanen Kaisa Koistinen Riikka Koivisto
Tuva Korsström Teija Koskela Anniina Lahtinen Kaj Kostiander Heidi Kurtti Maikki Laivikkala Kaisa Koponen Outi Kuittinen Mika Kytölä Anssi Komulainen
Karoliina Kytömaa Tapani Lausti Minna Lajaste
Anita Lehikoinen Kanerva Lehtonen Kaisa Leinonen
Antero J. Lahtinen Raimo Lehtinen Ossi Laurila Roope Lehtinen Sanna Leinonen-Nuorgam Johanna Lepojärvi Anu Liisanantti Suvi Lindén Annika Lepola Ossi Lindqvist
Heidi Lemmetyinen Arvi Leponiemi Kaisa Leppänen Lauri Lindgren Eino Lyytinen Henrik Lindqvist Nina Martikainen Panu Minkkinen Niina Mäenpää Merja Naumanen Leo Norja
Irmeli Niemi Eeva Mielonen Meeri Martti Liisa Matomäki Varpu Myllyniemi Kati Nuora Elina Multanen Mari Mäkinen Ilmari Nokkonen Séamas O’Catháin Dáithi O’Ceallaigh
Pia Parviainen Erno Ovaska Maija Rask
Anne Ontero Sara Rauma Taija Ronkainen Tanja Ronkainen
Outi Peacock Krista Oksanen Anneli Pauli Matti Rissanen Sixten Ringbom
Jarkko Ruokonen Max Ryynänen
Kari Purhonen Pilvi Rimmanen
Marika Rossi Marja Salaspuro Martin Saarikangas Jasmin Sarajärvi Marja Salo
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Tiina Salmela Suvi Saloniemi Maria Santto Kauko Sipponen Petra Stenfors Justin Staples Henrik Stenius Riku Sippo-Uotila Tuija Talvitie Satu Suomi Tea Stolt Andrew Stuart Minna Tarkka Elina Syrjänen Tuija Salovaara David Sefton Elina Siltanen
Kalervo Siikala Krista Sandström Pertti Silvennoinen Kristiina Sirén
Suvi-Anne Siimes Ilkka Toikka
Antti Tanskanen Kaisa Suominen Mirja Tolsa Kaisa Tukiainen Timo Valjakka Satu Teppo Riitta Uosukainen Kirsi Virtanen Ossi Tuomi Elina Uusitalo Krista Varantola Reijo Vihko Anniina Vuori Maarit Visbal Hannu Tolonen Taru Venäläinen Mikko Väänänen Jali Wahlsten Johan Willner Lisselotte Westerberg-Keskitalo
Marja Wright Benita Wallace Johan Wrede Vappu Ylinen Antti Öhrling Mika Öljymäki
Highlighted names are current staff, interns and board members.
“Finland is close to Britain but Britain is far from Finland. The founding of the Finnish institute is an important step towards reducing the relevance of that paradox.” — Michael Branch, founding member and Honorary Chairman of the Board, 1989
is the 20th anniversary publication of The Finnish Institute in London edited by Raija Koli with Olli-Matti Nykänen and Suvi Kukkonen. In Part One we highlight what we do and look back at a particular time in European history. In Part Two our collaborators share their thoughts on crossing physical and mental borders and rethink the role and opportunities of physical and virtual locations.
Chairman and Emerita Doctor of Visual Arts, Pro Arte Foundation
At the beginning of the 1950’s, my parents were so far-sighted that they enrolled me in the French elementary school in Helsinki, instead of the ordinary one. Those early years, when I learned the French language and became familiar with French culture together with the many trips and opportunities to spend time in France offered me a natural way to grow into internationalism. My later career at the Ateneum Art Museum, Kiasma—Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Finnish National Gallery have further strengthened my sense that internationality is important in all my doings. Studio visits in Beijing, Buenos Aires, New York, London, Moscow or Helsinki are essentially no different from each other. Art and the motives for making it are the unifying feature everywhere. Cultural differences are meaningful only in a positive way, they add richness. After all, cultures have never developed in a closed circle. Instead, influences have always flowed freely, despite borders.
I have actively worked in an international art community throughout my museum career—especially since the beginning of the 80’s—and still continue this in my current position and work in the art business. It has been extremely important to me that I have been able to reflect my own conceptions and thoughts to other international actors. Working with foreign museums, galleries and artists has been, and still is, extremely interesting and rewarding. I couldn’t imagine my life or work in some sort of national cocoon. Being part of the international community in my own field has been one of the most important resources when working in my home country. It has also been important to learn that we need to trust our own thinking, know-how and perspectives while interacting with others. Our thoughts fly and the world is one big human network. I can’t see how it could be in any other way.
Managing Director, Tero Saarinen Company
Race to the Finnish, a season of works by five Finnish choreographers was staged in collaboration with The Place and South Bank Centre by The Finnish Institute in London. It is still the most extensive showing of Finnish dance outside Finland. Working on the production with topflight London management professionals set tough international professional standards to which we were not then accustomed in Finland. What I learned in London, the way of thinking, and the contacts made have had a revolutionary impact on my own professional career. And they have been necessary, since working with leading international figures is now an everyday part of my current job. The success of the London performances has also been especially important for our group’s international careers and recognition. London is, after all, one of the world’s most important centres for dance. Although artistic quality is ultimately the key to international success, help and support from one’s own nation at the right time are also invaluable. On behalf of myself and Tero Saarinen Company, I would like to congratulate and thank the now 20-year-old Institute, not only for its outstanding co-operation, but also for the important contribution it has made to Finnish dance as a whole!
Tero Saarinen’s Petrushka SNOW. Photo: Tanja Ahola.
Jonat han Bland
Co-Founder, Social Business International
Supporting Knowledge Transfer and Social Innovation Across International Boundaries
Social Business International (SBI) is a consultancy based in Finland and the UK. Our work involves supporting knowledge transfer and social innovation across international borders. In the last year and half SBI has led four study visits from Finland to the UK, organised a conference in Tampere with international speakers and chaired a high level workshop for the European Commission. We have also produced two publications in English and Finnish looking at different international experiences in the field of social enterprise. Working across international boundaries is hard but rewarding. For it to be meaningful, linguistic and cultural barriers have to be overcome. It is all too easy to underestimate these barriers and the time needed for a fruitful exchange. To get the most from such encounters requires preparation, commitment, a positive attitude and above all the understanding that it is two-way process. The benefits can come in different ways: getting new ideas and adapting them to a different context (for example, our work on social enterprise with the Finnish Government), affirmation of what is already being done but is not fully developed (such as the use of outcomes based commissioning by municipal authorities). If there is a true match of values, it is possible to develop deep international relationships where the combination of different approaches can solve common problems. We face some very big common challenges across Europe such as: climate change, the ageing population with increased needs but with ever more limited resources, areas of high unemployment and social exclusion. We need to develop new and innovative solutions. We don’t need to repeat the mistakes other people have already made and we can find ways of scaling things that work. International exchange can help us develop these solutions faster and more effectively.
Lecturer, Newcastle University
Walking in Snow in Canada and in Finland
Since the beginning of the 90’s, I have worked either as a coordinator of exchange programmes in the Department of Architecture at HUT (now Aalto University) in Finland, or as an architecture lecturer in Canada, Ireland and now in the UK, and more specifically at Newcastle University. It is easy to see what any new encounter does for me: I have to define myself anew each time. The most revealing occasion for me was my stay in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, one spring in the 90’s, where I was running a studio for 11 students. I explained to them the secrets of Finnish culture, they explained to me what they thought was their Canadian cultural identity. I then later gave them some publications to read in which Finns explained what Finnishness meant to them. They observed that, even if Finns always said they are like any other Finn, they all seemed to have a distinctive, idiosyncratic profile. The students in Canada thought they would always emphasise how unlike each other they were, and then end up with a profile like any other Canadian. One of the more concrete revelations was the difference in attitudes to walking outside when it was -25 degrees Celsius and below. For me it was natural to walk along the sidewalk when going to work— I had a down jacket, felt hat and felt boots. To my surprise, sidewalks were not shovelled clear because no one in Winnipeg walks anywhere, at least not in the middle of winter: they all drive cars. The scandal was not me noticing that the sidewalks were covered in snow; but that everyone was alarmed by my stupidity in walking, and they quickly warned me that my eyeballs might eventually freeze. I had never heard of this threat back in Finland, which is further north than Winnipeg. On the other hand, I have heard that your brains eventually freeze, and you die in seconds, if you do not wear a proper hat.
Publishing Manager, Avain Kustannus LTD
Relying on the Relatives
My main task as a publisher is to bring the authors and readers together. Most encounters happen in people’s minds: the reader meets the world the author has created when (s)he reads the book. There are many professionals involved to make that possible: agents, editors, translators, journalists, booksellers etc. I see a publishing house as a home for authors’ works, the people working in a publishing house are like a family who does its best for the books and the professionals mentioned above are like relatives who have a lot in common but whose attention can’t be taken for granted without an open dialogue. A publisher arranges also a lot of face-to-face encounters for authors and readers, which always give something valuable to both writing and reading. Those encounters happen in bookshops, libraries, book fairs and in many different literary events. Great books deserve readers all around the world and the world needs us to understand what people in other countries think, dream and see around them. What else could make this possible in a more feasible and democratic way than literature?
In order to get the foreign readers’ attention, a publishing house needs its relatives in different countries. The Finnish Institute in London is one of Avain’s closest relatives abroad, like an older cousin who is a bit more experienced, who has important connections and who wants to use all that to make us to achieve our goals—in a way that is rewarding to both of us. There is one special encounter that I will never forget and which makes me believe that everything is possible. In mid-November 2007 we celebrated the English version of Elina Hirvonen’s debut novel When I Forgot. It was dark and rainy outside, but inside the Finnish Institute it was light and cosy and many encounters between people who share the same passion for good stories and for different cultures took place. Without valuing those very encounters, it is impossible to do business with literature. You can calculate sales expectations and other figures to some extent, but you can’t calculate what happens in those encounters—that’s the greatest and the most difficult thing in the book business. But you are never alone—you can always rely on relatives.
Kalle Hamm, Minna L. Henriksson, Dzamil Kamanger and Sezgin Boynik, Artists
The Pizzeria Babylon postcolonial word and book list by Kalle Hamm, Minna L. Henriksson, Dzamil Kamanger and Sezgin Boynik was distributed to the households in Helsinki during the Centrifugal Sequence III (2007). It has been reprinted in English translation in the Centrifugal Book of Europe (2010). Centrifugal is an international project and network of artists, educators, architects and theorists who have come together to develop methodologies for investigating the diverse forces that are producing contemporary ideas of Europe. See all original pizza lists on: www.finnish-institute.org.uk
Artist Director, Encounters International Film Festival, Head of Programme, Watershed
Back in the late 90s when we were making plans for developing Brief Encounters Short Film Festival in Bristol, UK a colleague said to me “If you want to experience a real short film festival you need to go Tampere”. The name had never registered before. I went not knowing quite what to expect. What I discovered was a truly inspirational source of passion for short film and one of the great meeting places for international filmmakers. The programmes set a high curatorial standard for how short films could be selected and shown. The experience demonstrated the vitality that a truly international festival could have; brilliant programming, stimulating events, great networking opportunities. The city beat with a cultural vision which I took back to Bristol as THE benchmark for what a festival should be. Then of course there was the local culture itself—a combination of the extreme and the serene, all embodied in the very real perfect metaphor of world famous Sauna Party: where else could I be standing naked whilst having a discussion with a fully clothed Peruvian filmmaker about problems of short film distribution? Only in Tampere.
Freelance Tour Producer, Sounduk
One of the most rewarding aspects of creating music events is working with people from another country. The differences and similarities between two cultures really open your eyes to new thoughts, ways of doing things and to possibilities. It’s easy to become routine about the concept of live music events and how they are delivered but the exchange of views with artists from overseas constantly refreshes the way we work. Working with international musicians has given us such inspiration, and a new way of looking at how we create events in the UK. The process of discussion, development of ideas, solutions to challenges all pave the way for the creation of highly memorable performances. We have built up very close relationships with some of our international friends over the years; working to facilitate the unstoppable imagination of Kimmo Pohjonen for instance, to create opportunities in the UK for his special performances.
As a result of such friendships with international artists and their teams, we feel very much part of a global scene that is constantly evolving and pushing boundaries. Without international networks our work and our lives would be all the poorer.
rtistic Director, Contemporary Art Archipelago and A Curator, Centrifugal
“Something in the world forces us to think. This something is an object not of recognition but of a fundamental encounter.” —Gilles Deleuze, Difference & Repetition, 1968/1994 Thought arises out of a rupture. Both critical and creative practices rely on encounters that take us to our own limits. Three random cases suggest that encounters—crossborder, crossdisciplinary—are necessary for a sustainable future: Case 1: Contemporary Art Archipelago One misty morning in the Turku archipelago, the New Yorkbased Chilean artist Alfredo Jaar was waiting on the island of Utö. Jaar wondered why the near-empty boat was scheduled to leave as early as 5.45am. He was deeply touched by the answer: a boy living on a small island along the five-hour route has to get to school on the main island. To Jaar it seemed extraordinary that an individual could still have such importance in a society. Case 2: House of Cards In a seminar at Turku Art Academy a performance prompted an intense discussion on mental space and interior states. This subjective realm evoked by a house of cards was suddenly catapulted into farreaching connections when a Tanzanian-born student contributed his reflections on the work—the twin towers, the global economy, democracy.
Case 3: Centrifugal An international group of artists and theorists was taken on alternative tours of Belfast, including the personal, yet highly political “troubles tour” by a local taxi driver, through the residential areas separated by a high, miles-long fence. The barbed wire, the infamous murals, the strategically placed motorways and shopping centres not only made the divisions literally concrete in this so-called post-conflict city, but drew critical attention to the historical, economic and cultural divides in other urban contexts. How can we understand who we are or, most urgently, who we want to become in this world without encounters that leave us deeply touched?
CEO, Forum Virium Helsinki
Director, London Design Festival
We are very fortunate, we live in a city that is home to the world. A place where it is possible to meet someone from every other country of the world. It has become a feature of London life and is illustrated not just through the variety of restaurants or languages spoken in schools but by creativity and design. Design is passportless. You don’t have to retrain to move, it is a transferable skill. London is full of designers from elsewhere. Indeed many of our greatest stars don’t hold British passports. They have come to study, live and work here and are now shaping our identity. It is why when asked what is British design [which I often am by foreign journalists] I say it is a design culture in constant flux remoulded by outside influences. That is a good thing. The exchange of ideas is happening here all around us all of the time. It gives us a vibrancy which few can match. The universality of English, the reputation as a place of ideas, the opportunity our world offers to newcomers will mean that the new ENCOUNTERS that create the sparks will continue for some time yet.
Festival Programmer, Cork Film Festival
On arrival to Tampere, I was immediately struck by the spirit of a city that could host two Ramones tribute bands on the same night in different venues. Somehow that punk ethic surfs through much of Tampere; right through to the important Tampere Short Film Festival where I was befriended and immersed in an unusually rich, individualistic film programme. The social encounters were as impressive as the festival itself; the steady thrum of the whisky bar replaced occasionally by compulsory dipping in frozen water, and that most Finnish of experiences, the sauna. Despite rejecting friend’s notions that all work travel is intrinsically exciting, it is in fact a huge priviledge. The international encounter allows you to connect with your interests, rejuvenate and most of all, make new discoveries. Try an international encounter, and in no time, you’ll feel like part of an open worldwide community with irresistible enthusiasms for unheard-of short films and sailing for new adventures in the moving image. Illustrating how hard you work while attending festivals in Lisbon, Cannes, Tampere or Rome; how you ignore the sun/snow/fun and games of these exciting places, doesn’t really hold much sway. Crossing borders to work internationally is an essential part of any programmer’s work. It always throws up the unexpected and often the inspirational. From my visit to Tampere Film Festival; I met colleagues and filmmakers that have remained an essential and important part of the work that we do here in Cork. Certainly we don’t meet often, but the remembrance of a recommendation that can lead to years of engagement with a filmmaker, the warm friendships formed, and the collegiate club founded, that’s always open to new members; continues to inspire during the frazzled nights of festival production, long after the physical border has been crossed.
Director of Design, Victoria and Albert Museum
At the V&A we have an on-going programme of redesigning our galleries and restoring and revitalising our historic buildings by introducing bold, contemporary interventions. We call this programme FuturePlan and in the past 10 years we have worked with hundreds of architects, designers and artists to transform the museum. Many of whom are based in other countries. I love all our projects, but for this publication I would like to highlight the V&A’s women’s toilets… These were redesigned for us by a young architectural practice called Glowacka Rennie in 2009. As with many of our projects, we wanted to incorporate a contemporary commission so I approached the Swiss painter Felice Varini to work with the ‘canvas’ that would be created by the architects. Varini paints on architectural spaces such as buildings, walls and streets. His paintings are characterized by one vantage point from which the viewer can see the complete work (usually a simple geometric shape), while from other view points the viewer will see ‘broken’ fragments. I was a little concerned about what his reaction might be to creating work for toilets, but far from being offended he accepted the commission—a leap of faith on his part. As we talked through the practicalities it became clear to me that there had to be an equivalent leap of faith on our part too. We would not know what the work would look like until it was complete. Varini’s installation is called Six Circles in Disorder. As you enter the toilets you encounter fragmented lines in cobalt blue stretched across the architect’s decorative ceiling. The six circles only make sense when you stand in front of a wash-hand basin and look into the mirror. Here the ‘disorder’ transforms into perfect order. It’s an amusing, elegant and delightful installation.
Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Curator, Head of Artists’ Advisory Services and Artists’ Producer, Artsadmin and member of The Manifesto Club
International exchange and collaboration keep the spirit of creative and artistic encounters fresh and exciting. It moves history forward and builds greater understanding, co-operation and challenges through the sharing of art, conversation, debate and dialogue. It becomes a physical experience, which no amount of huge advances in Skype or videoconferencing can replace. Residencies that I have organized which have brought international artists to Artsadmin from Finland, Kurdish Region of Iraq, Palestine and the UK artists whom I work with who left other lands to live and settle in the UK have opened my eyes to moving stories of migration, geo-politics and the legacies of European colonialism. These are living encounters over the company of good wine, food, the artist’s studio, the final public sharing, exhibition or live performance. It becomes a lived experience.
Visiting artists learn, absorb and take influences back while also meeting new artists and audiences. In return, UK artists will also be welcomed with open arms, hospitality and new experiences, which is why I am so mad at our UK Government’s stringent and highly restrictive points-based immigration system! The bureaucratic and unfriendly position taken by the UK Border Agency has broken down this sense of trust where the guest artist is treated with warmth, kindness and friendship, to a bureaucratic relationship based on compliance, submission, surveillance and monitoring. Campaigning against these draconian visa restrictions has been morally important to me which is why I joined a young civil liberties group called the Manifesto Club—a membership group of free thinkers, artists, curators, academics, teachers, students and many others from various walks of life. Government bureaucracy and restrictions are curbing freedom of expression, the pleasures and challenges of art. In my view it is an excellent model of 21st century Enlightenment, a human-centred think tank and association of activists who challenge the stifling bureaucracy of state interference in art, science and public life.
Professor Emeritus of Adult Education, University of London and Honorary Doctor of Philosophy, Helsinki University
I’ve worked closely with Finns since 1968, when I became an educational broadcaster and active with The Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE (at a European Broadcasting Union conference in Hämeenlinna). That led to lasting friendships. I next went on to London University as Professor of Adult Education and chaired a meeting at the Institute of Education, when a man who turned out to be my opposite number in Helsinki University keenly proposed co-operation with us. So it was really special to be at the Institute’s launch meeting—nobody even knew then where it would be housed! My earliest Nordic memories go back to my father playing Sibelius’ original piano version of Finlandia, and a recording of Grieg’s piano concerto. Years later, in just year two of my first adult education job, I was unexpectedly given an opportunity by Unesco: a three-week adult education study tour in Denmark, Sweden and Norway, with participants from all over Europe—including Finland. I then embarked on a portfolio adult education career in different roles, all with international dimensions. Finns were outstanding for their commitments to adult learning, democratic values, and cultural achievements.
One particular memory illustrates the Institute in action: a two-day seminar in 2004 co-organised with Council member Kauko Sipponen (Tampere University Chancellor) and Research Manager Elina Multanen. The theme was Demography and Democracy, explored with the Finnish Parliament’s Select Committee for the Future and a bold UK project, Better Government for Older People. Key figures such as Paula Tiihonen (The Future Committee‘s administrator), and Mervyn Eastman (BGOP’s Director) made this a rewarding experience—focusing on older people’s active citizenship potential. It demonstrated the Institute’s ability to increase mutual learning and understanding.
Artist, Designer and Director, Klaus Haapaniemi LTD
You can travel with work for various reasons. Sometimes the work is performed, sometimes you introduce it, sometimes you create something new or develop your thinking. The different working methods influence your working at least as much as which country you are in. A cross-cultural project can start in an auditorium and people can come to the first meeting with laptops. On the other hand, if you arrange a meeting with dancers in a dance studio, the first thing the dancers do on entering the room is place themselves on the floor. This is part of the code of dance and an automatic way of acting in that place and situation. We have lots of specific acquired mental and practical customs when we are working. In international collaborations, the point is the combination and clash of these habits. Most habits can be altered, if necessary. One of the greatest lessons I have learned while working abroad has been that you can do things in many different ways and you can position yourself differently as an artist. At the same time, you obviously develop your methods about how to be and how to influence. If you can speak the local language you are in a different position. My way of doing things has not been particularly national. I studied in English, and afterwards I have worked in Finland and abroad. The English language has become an important part of my identity.
In the performing arts, where the work essentially takes place between people, it always has to do with the magical combination of personal chemistry, style, ideas and skills. As a choreographer and director, I can express this human-to-human interaction in many different ways and models. I have learned a lot, for example, while working in international dance labs and residencies. It would be ideal to know all the foreign names and people’s backgrounds, and to work by understanding the local context and point of view. My own way of working is often very intense. Sometimes and in some places it has been important to slow down a bit and have longer conversations, for example, in Stockholm. I love the mellow, easy-going way in Sweden, but I often feel so eager to start working, instead of enjoying another cup of coffee. In London, my colleagues are professionals at making proposals and talking about their own work—something that makes them easily approachable in a good way. While working in many different places, I have learned to work remotely and to take responsibility for creating new ideas independently. Skype, email essays and picture databases have become essential in this process. The good thing about international collaboration are meeting different audiences, seeing the works of other artists, sharing productions with colleagues and partners, and learning from them and expanding your mental support network beyond your home town— things that place your work in a larger context.
irector, The Architecture Foundation and Co-Director, D London Festival of Architecture
It may be terribly old-fashioned, but I emphatically believe that successful cultural partnerships must begin with the unit of the face-toface, individual-to-individual exchange. No matter how intellectual, abstract or widely disseminated the resulting endeavor may be, at the start physical contact and shared sustenance are essential. Most of my strongest working relationships have sprung from a one-to-one conversation, usually initiated over a long walk, a hot drink, or ideally, a combination of the two!
Helsinki coffee, January 2011
Collaborating is in my roots. Growing up in the Finnish school system the emphasis was on collaborating rather than competing. The success (or failure) was shared by the group. As an artist there is an element of danger in collaborating. It takes the work into unpredictable directions and that I find exciting.
Factology workshops in full swing outside the Olympic Stadium in London. A family of landscape features created by a team of Riitta Ikonen, The Klassnik Corporation and We Made That, in collaboration with the Olympic Delivery Authority’s Landscape and Public Realm team. London 2008–11.
Human Nylon. At the dentist in Brighton, UK 2005.
Eyes as Big as Plates. Collaboration with Karoline Hjorth in Norway 2011.
Preparing a pinocchio for the ‘If you could collaborate’ show with British artist Ian Wright in New York in 2009.
Culture Does Good …for Your Heart.
Programme Director, Turku 2011 Foundation
Turku’s year as the European Capital of Culture 2011 has truly been a year of encounters. Thousands of artists and people from 60 countries have exchanged thoughts and experiences while carrying out the year-long cultural programme for Turku 2011. Millions of people have experienced these thoughts and the artists’ creativity in the form of artworks, events and performances, and thus hopefully gained lasting memories and new viewpoints on life. Besides cooperation, the Turku 2011 encounters have also been surprising, border-crossing combinations of disparate elements, such as Kimmo Pohjonen’s production Accordion Wrestling, which brought together accordion music and wrestling. Or the circus performance Quantum, combining circus and quantum physics. In these projects the bolder the original collaboration, the stronger the outcome has been. Amid the large-scale experiences, 2011 has also seen thousands of smaller encounters, sometimes simply coincidental meetings between artists and passers-by. These small encounters have created great stories—some larger than life. One of these little encounters took place during the Eurocultured Festival, brought to Turku by the Manchester-based company Spearfish. A Spanish visual artist, Aryz, was working on a huge mural artwork in the centre of Turku. One morning, he heard a young woman greeting him from the foot of his cherry-picker crane. When he got down, the woman had disappeared. But attached to the cherry-picker was a balloon with a little note saying: “Hi. I live in the house next door and see this painting every time I look out of the window, and every time it makes me smile. Thank you!” Aryz was so touched by this note that he drew a little heart at the bottom of the mural painting to thank the mysterious young woman. Hopefully she will one day find out that the heart she sees every day from her window is meant especially for her.
T uomas Kallio
usician and Artistic Director, Flow festival and M Pori Jazz
Internationally, the music scene is quite networked. There is a web, entwined together by a genre of music, an area of expertise, a profession, or even the fan base of a certain artist. There are lots of encounters in the loose, incoherent networks of music professionals. These encounters—often involving individuals who are strangers to each other and who come from all over the world—are really brief, but intense in nature. There is a lot to talk about and not much time. When two strangers meet for the first time, it is important to have some kind of understanding or harmony of minds and agendas— what are we actually doing and why. Without this, the encounter can be—at least for the Finnish character—an experience of great discomfort. A situation with people selling and pushing their ideas, products and points of views without any real response. Maybe a cup of coffee. The exchange of business cards, shaking of hands, and the “good to meet you”. And after that—nothing. Big fairs and conferences are full of these kinds of encounters, encounters that you forget in no time at all.
But then there are those other encounters. Those that can actually have an impact on the future of the parties in question. Those that instantly give you goose bumps and, afterwards, leave you with a feeling of great importance and wonder. There is a way to make an encounter really resonant: You have talked with each other on the phone and exchanged e-mails. Got acquainted with each other a bit. Then you arrive on the other’s home ground. Your host might show you around his town; his favourite coffee shop, a superb restaurant or some local landmarks. Little by little, you start to discuss other things besides the project you’re working on, and you start to get to know your business partner in a more personal way— maybe even become familiar with the new environment and culture. A famous New York-style pizza in downtown Manhattan, sushi served by cooks wearing rubber boots in the Tokyo docks, a rush hour from hell on a freeway in Los Angeles, a hard-to-find secondhand record store somewhere in London’s East End, rustic food from Provence in Cannes, a 1930’s hotel that feels like time travel in the middle of Istanbul, a spontaneous tasting of new-harvest wine at a wine club in Rome, or a visit to a traditional Finnish restaurant, Sea Horse, with a diverse group of foreigners. All these I remember and cherish as important building blocks in a splendid encounter; situations and surroundings that have given these encounters a new, exciting vibe, and left everlasting memories.
Curator and CEO, Visual Arts Ireland
Founder and Director, Helsinki Design Week
Director, Tampere Film Festival
More Unproductive and Therefore Necessary Encounters!
The Finnish Institute in London has been one of the actors with whom we have realized the very essence of the Tampere Film Festival. To our knowledge, we share the same purpose: to get people and ideas interfacing in ways that create something new and meaningful—more understanding of Finns, including, of course, for Finns, too. In the current social climate, the work is not easy. We are expected to produce results, but when those who demand those results can only measure non-essential instrumental values, things are done wrongly from the start. It is frustrating to try to explain genuine, authentic benefits with numbers in project plans and reports about things that mostly will not even fit into the world of numbers. Despite that, or because of it, we hope that the Finnish Institute in London will keep up the valuable work. We hope for more actions that produce new relationships between people, new ideas, and (even) unpredictable encounters, along with all the things you can’t buy with money, even though money is needed to produce them.
Artist, Cartoonist and Graphic Designer
Director, Scottish Poetry Library
Working with international partners involves the setting aside of preconceptions—although it must be said that national stereotypes often have some basis; openness to doing things differently—slower/ faster, more formally/more casually; humour; curiosity; trust; patience. (Money, too, is useful.) Language is our bridge or barrier, the means by which we transform the vision of one poet into the voice of another. There are unexpected affinities, surprising gaps. Music and whisky enhance the affinities, close the gaps. Crossing physical and intellectual borders for the first time is exciting, but the best thing is returning: going more than once to a place—Helsinki, Bratislava, Istanbul—and visitors coming back to Scotland, keeping the conversations going under their own impetus, after the project has run its course. Encounters can become friendships. It’s a slow process, often, and the rewards—although they are costed and reported—escape quantification. They help us to see beyond those national stereotypes, give us the complex, rich encounter with creativity which is both disciplined and wayward. Here’s a poem written by a Romanian poet at the workshop hosted by the Scottish Poetry Library and Literature Across Frontiers at Crear, in Argyll, that gives a sense of the efforts and rewards:
that big blackberry there is the word I need I’ve tried to get it nettles and thorns hurt my hand that blackberry gleaming in the thicket —Ioana Ieronim, August 2009
rtistic Director, hcmf//—Huddersfield Contemporary A Music Festival
I was in Tampere for the Biennale when the world stopped flying due to the volcanic ash cloud from Iceland. After a few days it became clear that flights to and from Finland would remain grounded for several days. With colleagues from Belgium, Germany, Austria and the Netherlands (and with invaluable assistance from our hosts at the Finnish Music Information Centre) I embarked on a road trip which started with an overnight ferry to Stockholm where we hired a (slightly too small car— the only one available) and drove through Sweden, across the bridge to Denmark, a car ferry to Hamburg where we dropped off our German and Austrian colleagues, onto to Amsterdam, and finally to Brussels, where I took the Eurostar back to London! My back was now painfully aware of actually how far Finland was from the UK! I had visited so many times— blithely hopping aboard a flight and two hours later arriving in Helsinki to meet colleagues and listen to often memorable music. You might anticipate that I have not returned to Finland since following such an experience, however a few months later I was in the small town of Viitasaari for the excellent festival programmed by the wonderful young composer Perttu Haapanen, and some months later during a particularly cold and snowy February I was back in Helsinki for Musica Nova.
So what is it about Finland that compels me to return time and time again. Undoubtedly the quality of the music across a number of genres, and in particular contemporary classical, improvisation, and new indie folk. It is also however expertise and comradeship. Some of the closest and most inspiring relationships I have experienced in my professional life have been with Finnish colleagues such as Annamaija Saarela—a long time collaborator now President of the European Jazz Network—who continues to astonish me with her depth of knowledge, enthusiasm, and unflagging energy in championing new European music. I have particularly fond memories of introducing the Fonal label family to Scotland while I was Director of the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow. Rather than look back however I prefer to think about the next collaboration, and in 2012 hcmf// will work with the Defune Ensemble in a special project that pairs the group with the extraordinary British improviser John Butcher. We will also give the UK premiere to Monodramas, bringing together two new radical and distinctive approaches to music theatre by composers Perttu Haapanen & Lotta Wennäkoski.
International Affairs Manager, Dance Info Finland
As the name of one of the most well-known contemporary dance venues in the world suggests, London is The Place to discover new talents, greet the famous choreographers and dancers, and experience a vast range of different genres and styles of dance. The Finnish Institute in London has played a significant role in introducing the Finnish dance talents to London audience. Race to the Finnish was one of the first and successful Finnish dance platforms abroad. In 2001, it presented Jyrki Karttunen, Kenneth Kvarnström, Tommi Kitti, Susanna Leinonen and Tero Saarinen. The event was not just a series of performances, but a season of Finnish dance with seminars, gatherings and various encounters. It was about Finnish and British dance professionals sharing of knowledge; ten years ago the gaining side were definitely the Finns. Race to the Finnish opened the Finnish dance scene to the British presenters, and provided an excellent basis for further collaborations. It started a decade during which the Finnish dance has developed its international strategies: On the top of that we have nowadays more possibilities to see foreign companies performing in Finland. The dance scene is opening up, which is necessary for growing and developing. The last ten or so years working with Finnish dance has been a wonderful journey to learn to work internationally. It has proved that in fact, time is probably the most significant factor when developing artistically meaningful projects or productions across the borders. It takes sometimes years to find the artistic minds that share the similar thoughts, ideas, values or concepts. It should not be pushed, though fruitful contexts can be created and provided. Sometimes it can happen in a second; although, usually it takes time to understand each others’ realities and ways of working. Although, working internationally is not an end in itself, it opens up ultimate possibilities to develop one’s work, whether artistic or managerial. It gives richness and understanding to different aspects of life that can not be measured.
Jone Nuut inen
ulti-functionalist and Managing Director, Eastborder M Promotion & Management
Over the past 25 years, I’ve spent a considerable amount of time in London. In the late 80’s, the city represented something unique and exciting, at least, if you picture it from the point of view of someone from a small town on the eastern border of Finland. The City really had something different to offer. Since then, I’ve been lucky enough to visit it for work, stealing a couple of days for myself when changing planes at Heathrow, or for no reason at all. Over the years, London has become my favourite spot in the world (NYC is disputing this, but the jury has not reached a verdict yet) and luckily, nowadays, I get to go there roughly once a month. Years ago, when exporting music and entertainment industry projects and products was not supported by the Finnish Government at the levels it is now, the Finnish Institute played a key role in helping me to launch a couple of music projects in the UK, and some of the contacts I made back then have proved very valuable nowadays, too. Back in the late 90’s, I was working with what is now a 25,000 visitor-a-day capacity event called Ilosaarirock. We figured that the festival’s profile should be raised within the music industry in the UK by getting some of the key media over to the event. Although the sun does not set in the northern hemisphere in the summer, and the country is filled with lakes and endless pine woods, the journalists managed to complete their articles, and the outcome was a dozen positive festival reviews. Mission accomplished. Maybe the most interesting part, though, is that on publication of the articles, our press agent in the UK received a number of phone calls from other journalists enquiring about whether it was possible to be part of the trip in the following year… The reasons for the interest were probably not solely related to the flattering articles they had read the day before, and non-workrelated activities may have played a role of some kind. Who knows? Thank You, Finnish institute, and we’ll return to this subject again when you are 40.
Anni Puolakka and Jenna Sutela, Curators
This manifesto conveys the present-day aims of OK Do, a creative practice—or an alternative cultural institute—which changes its focus, shape and location according to whatever feels most relevant at the given moment. It was first published in ‘OK Talk Helsinki/London’ book (2011), which celebrated our discussions with a group of Londonand Helsinki-based artists, designers and theorists as part of Finnish Institute’s HEL YES! event. Edited by OK Do, the book is designed by Åh. Hand-writing by Nene Tsuboi and photograph by Paavo Lehtonen.
Kalmuk UK tour 2002, Queen Elisabeth Hall, London. Photo: Ilpo Musto
Earth Machine Music UK Tour 2008, Manor Farm, Cocking, West Sussex. Photo: Ilpo Musto
tudios Development Manager, Temple Bar Gallery S + Studios
Helsinki–Dublin HIAP residency exchange programme
Martin Healy, Still from Fugue, 2011
Niamh O’Malley,Production still, Flag, 2008
Antti Leppanen, Contingency Plan, Teak-veneer on wood frame,milk crates, 2010
Sonia Shiel, Shoot Out, video, Chandelier, Pendulum, Beach: Installation shot, 2007
Publisher, Arcadia Books
The UK can sometimes even today seem an insular place, at least in terms of translated literature. That’s why my colleagues Daniela de Groote, Angeline Rothermundt, Andy Hayward and I spend a fair whack of our time travelling around Europe and elsewhere. We are also fortunate in having two Board members, Andrew Gifford and Piers-RussellCobb of MediaFund who do the same. It’s only by visiting countries that you really begin to get a feel for the writing—and make the contacts, of course. And that’s one of the reasons why Arcadia publishes authors from over 35 different countries. Finland. Daniela and I have visited Helsinki a number of times and have also travelled around the rest of the country as well. But it’s Helsinki we know best and to my mind it’s one of the most friendly and visually-striking cities anywhere. It’s a city designed around its peoples, if I can put it like that, with an amazing blend of contemporary architecture and parks and green spaces. We are in the fortunate position of publishing Finland’s top crime writer, Matti Joensuu, as we call him in English, in our EuroCrime series. We’ve had a great success with his novels The Priest of Evil (now filmed) and To Steal Her Love, and next year we’ll publish his latest crime novel, The Iron Chamber. David Hackston, a prize-winning young translator who lives in Helsinki, does a marvellous job translating Matti Joensuu into English. We have also published At the Edge of Light, a second novel set in the far north of Finland by the Finlandia Prize shortlisted writer Maria Peura. ‘A remarkable talent’ proclaimed Lucy Beresford in the New Statesman. We have also been blessed over the years with our choice of printers who are… you guessed it, Finnish. Thank you Bookwell for everything you’ve done on our behalf, and thank you Kjell Karlsson and Peter Everest in particular.
Managing Director, Hub Helsinki
I believe that collaboration is the new competition. Hub Helsinki brings people together from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds to meet, work and learn from each other. Hub is a place where boundaries blur and serendipity flourishes. It’s a place where the most unexpected, world changing ideas are born and turned into novel concepts and enterprises. But what else is needed to nurture collaboration and new partnerships? Two elements are crucial. First, we need trust. Without trust everything is like a house of cards. There is no foundation for working together, no space for social capital to develop. In fact, simply everyday life would be quite impossible without trust. Once trust starts building up, people actually reach out for each other. Being able to trust adds to the meaningfulness and joyfulness of life. Trust, or the lack of it, has nothing to do with one’s nationality or country. Trust is co-created between two persons regardless of a place or culture. The second needed element is what I call philosophy of sharing. It’s an old myth that new ideas are being born as a result of some kind of divine light landing on one person. Rather, ideas bounce back and forth, they get shared. It is through sharing and collective brainstorming that ideas crystallise and find their most sophisticated form. Russian philosopher Mikhail Bakhtin wrote that: “To be means to communicate… To be means to be for another, and through the other, for oneself. A person has no internal sovereign territory, he is wholly and always on the boundary; looking inside himself, he looks into the eyes of another or with the eyes of another.” Let us enjoy collaboration!
See next page for Travelogue, 2010
Founder and Creative Director, Studio EMMI
Museum Director, Museum of Contemporary Art KIASMA
The Complaints Choir, a communal art project initiated by the Finnish artist duo Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen, has become a success story in its worldwide popularity. Ordinary people with amateur singing skills write lyrics and sing their chosen complaints out loud. Grousing about everyday matters used to be seen as a genuinely Finnish vice, but as the complaint choir has clearly demonstrated, it works everywhere! The first choir was set up in England in 2005. “Birmingham was a perfect place to start the project. The participants, who were found through flyers and small posters, understood the concept instinctively,” say the artists. The second choir was founded in Helsinki in 2006, for Kiasma’s ARS 06 exhibition. Since then, the artists have been invited to start choirs around the globe. The most recent was organized in Porto Alegro, Brazil, this September. Surprising features, revealed through the artists’ observations, can unite different cultures and be positively international. A contemporary-art project can make even the negative act of complaining into a rewarding activity. Any complaints?
Helsinki Complaint Choir, 2006, still from a video documentation. Collections of the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Photo: Central Art Archives/Petri Summanen
Director, Site Gallery
Leaning over the railing of the boat and watching the bow smash the thick sea ice that covered the surface of the water between the fortress island Suomenlinna where I was staying and Helsinki mainland where I was taking part in a festival was a piece of Nordic magic. It felt poetic. It felt symbolic. In the cold you need tools to connect—big boats, vodka, cosy spots where you huddle to exchange your ideas. My fuzzy memories are mixed of art tinged with the feelings of fairy-tales—Jani Rusica and his Batbox work, Eija Liisa Ahtila and her spell-binding and then some booming Pink Twins electronica mixed with random jazz. I went to Helsinki and fell in love.
Artist and Designer, Company
Deputy Director, European Institute, UCL
Originally used to describe a ‘meeting of adversaries’, an encounter these days is as much about unexpectedly coming-into-contact-with, about mutual examination and, ideally, learning, as it is about potential quarrel. One story about a particular kind of encounter might serve as an illustration: “Several blind men approached an elephant and each touched the animal in an effort to discover what the beast looked like. Each blind man, however, touched a different part of the large animal, and each concluded that the elephant had the appearance of the part he had touched. Hence, the blind man who felt the animal’s trunk concluded that an elephant must be tall and slender, while his fellow who touched the beast’s ear concluded that an elephant must be oblong and flat. Others of course reached different conclusions. The total result was that no man arrived at a very accurate description of the elephant. Yet, each man had gained enough evidence from his own experience to disbelieve his fellows and to maintain a lively debate about the nature of the beast.” —Donald J. Puchala, Of Blind Men, Elephants and International Integration, 1971
The story of this peculiar encounter, cited by Puchala to describe how scholars grapple with something they are yet to fully understand, tells us several things at once. The perils of presuming to fully understand the nature of the beast. The delicate balance between the universal and the particular. Our predisposition to always know better (and to vigorously verbalise that fact). But above all, that drawing on more than a single perspective is likely to increase our understanding of the world. We might still disagree about virtually anything, even the act of viewing itself (—“But blindness isn’t like that, said the other fellow, they say that blindness is black, Well I see everything white”— Jose Saramago, Blindness, 1995). But only by way of encountering other views can we look beyond our own. That, for me, is what encounters are all about.
CEO, FACT Foundation for Art and Creative Technology
Film Director and Visual Artist
Window display of the book “Futuro—Tomorrow’s House from Yesterday” edited by Marko Home and Mika Taanila at the flagship Foyles store in Charing Cross, September 2003. Photo: Tiina Tuohi
Tuija Talvit ie
Executive Director, Crisis Management Initiative
On Cultural Competencies, Partnerships and Conflict Resolution
Since the cold war, there has been a systematic change in the nature of wars and conflicts, so that the great majority of conflicts now take place within states, rather than between them. And the growing interdependence of nation states requires solutions that cross borders. The resolution of complex conflicts calls for creative thinking and new approaches that incorporate an understanding of the history of the division and of the evolving global and cultural context within which it is set. Military solutions are not the answer. Neither is traditional diplomacy, which now needs to look outside its own parameters to be effective. There is a demand for more informal actors who can complement official efforts at conflict-resolution, and contribute to trustbuilding, engagement and dialogue on the ground. Culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict prevention, because culture defines our identity, who we think we are, how we make meanings, what is important to us, and how. When problems surface, it is often a reaction against unfamiliarity and difference. Whether it involves ethnic, faith, political, social or economic matters, difference is often a source of fear and misunderstanding.
Peace is a question of will, and skill. Violent conflicts are not inevitable, they are caused by people. Understanding the motivations for conflicts requires cultural fluency: awareness and aptitude. These are skills and competencies that have to be built at all levels of society. Exercising these capacities from the political level to the grassroots enables more effective engagement that can diffuse volatile situations, so many of which feed on misinformation and disinformation at their start and in their continuation. By promoting reciprocity, mutual respect, openness, and challenging assumptions, cultural relations can create connections. Connections, cultural competencies and peace plans that allow for more effective multi-party negotiations make the process more inclusive and potentially more successful. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for conflicts. Cultural fluency is thus a core competency for those who intervene in conflicts, are touched by conflict, or who simply want to function more effectively in their own lives.
Director, m-cult and Curator, Media Facades Helsinki 2010
Electronic Art Encounters in Public Space. Helsinki–Liverpool Exchanges During the Media Facades Festival 2010
The Media Facades Festival 2010 was a collaboration between seven European cities—Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Helsinki, Linz, Liverpool and Madrid. The festival addressed the communicative potentials of electronic art in public space and it co-produced over 30 media artworks for presentation on urban screens over a period of ten weeks. This type of event involves a complex orchestration of encounters—the setting-up of interfaces between the festival cities, between the artworks and their locations, and most importantly, between the artwork and its audiences. In electronic art most of these interfaces are based on digital technology and software. In Media Facades, too, the art used a range of digital technologies repurposed from information and surveillance systems. However, a highly important aspect of the artists’ work was the objective of creating temporary takeovers of public space by engaging in intimate encounters with the users. An integral part of the festival was a residence exchange between Helsinki (m-cult) and Liverpool (FACT). The successful exchange built bridges between two suburban communities—Kontula in Eastern Helsinki and Liverpool’s Anfield. Tenantspin, the famous community TV coordinated by FACT in Liverpool, brought four of its members to work with residents of Helsinki and Anfield. The process involved an exploration of the participants’ sense of place, identity and citizenship, and it resulted in two short films, which humorously address local situations and urban regeneration from the residents’ perspective.
Giants of the Hoods, the Finnish counterpart in the exchange, created a series of dance events in which participants puppeteered giant characters via their own movements and motion-tracking software. The animated characters were composites of local and global stereotypes, which the participants remixed during some totally danceable DJ sets. After touring Helsinki neighbourhoods, the project was brought to Liverpool as part of the festival’s final events. Both projects played with questions of local identity and involved the local people in their production. For us they showed the full potential of participatory media art in public space—and the important role of artists as social agents in enabling encounters across localities. Tenantspin’s films Kontula News and Four Bricks were co-created by Alex Harrison, Laura Yates, Ian McNeil and Lucy Gonzales with residents of Kontula and Anfield. http://m2hz.net/ohjelmat/tenantspin-presents Giants of the Hoods—Sini Haapalinna, Markku Nousiainen, Pia Lindy, Matti Niinimäki www.giantsofthehoods.com
Giants of the Hoods, Helsinki, 2010. Photo: Kirsi Tuura
Musician and Composer
Every time I go to NY I meet Lary7. He’s a professional photographer, I’m an amateur photographer. I’m a professional musician, he’s an amateur musician. I don’t like the idea of being a professional. Normally being professional in something means you’ve sold out. When we meet, we make records. That means vinyl records. We use only old tape recorders and old, top-quality mikes. We mix the music on tape as well, and take the tape to the record-cutting plant. The music won’t have any kind of encounter with a computer. Lary is a purist in this sense. I don’t care that much. I usually use a computer every day when I make music. But not when I make music with him. We have a band called Soft Focus. At Lary’s place you can’t sit down. It is too full of vintage instruments, cameras and tape recorders to find a spot for a chair. I took some beer to the recording session, but the fridge is full of film. I make flutes, so we made a record with those flutes. Except that I forgot the flutes in Finland. We went to the hardware store and bought some PVC pipe and made the flutes out of that. We are DIY guys. Lary has an East-German camera lens which is radioactive. He keeps it in his closet. His brother advised him not to keep it near the film. Well, the film is in the fridge anyway.
Jimi Tenor & Lary7
edia Artist and Researcher, Aalto University, School of Art M and Design
Spaces for Shared Imagination
In the summer of 2003, I carried out a small internet-based social experiment, which I called Imaginary Journey. The project’s website showed a travel journal in which a mother and her five-yearold son’s train journey through Europe was described through a series of pictures and texts. The background story, however, made clear that the journey had been produced through the means of communal fiction. In reality the mother and her son lived in Helsinki and had asked a group of fellow travellers for assistance. These fellow travellers imagined their visits to different places and helped them create the story of their journey. In retrospect, one could say that the project was supported by those spaces of shared imagination, in which the events in the journey were created by working together as a team. Unlike traditional travelogues, the mother and son’s journey is purely fictional and has been produced communally using different media technologies. The story is thus twofold: one can look at it as a traditional story of a journey or as a story of the production process of the journey. The latter approach focuses not only on the perusal of the daily stories, but also on the attempt to find holes or tears in the web of the implementation process. The latter approach also enables one to see the pictures in parallel with the e-mails documenting the production process, which are archived as part of the work. The latter story: the space of shared imagination as a shared work and process is the actual theme of the Imaginary Journey project.
Even though the story of this particular journey is fictional, the production process of Imaginary Journey highlights the everydayness of cooperation and internationalisation. The subject of the work, the unpredictability of these imaginary encounters, is a theme that runs through the production process that is part of the project. Every chance encounter needs countless messages, and mutual planning and preparation. Now, several years later, as I read the messages archived in the story, my attention is drawn to their affectivity. The exchanges of messages were not only about sharing information, but first and foremost they were a driving force, and that force, which was supposed to give us the possibility for an encounter, also moved us.
Detail from the travel journal Imaginary Journey, London, June 12, 2003. http://imaginaryjourney.uiah.fi/diary/London1206/14.html
Salla T ykkä
Anna Vart iainen
Marketing Director, Artek
Internationalism is Reflected in Modern-Day World Citizenship
The creation of Artek inevitably comes to my mind. Alvar Aalto was asked to organise a furniture exhibition at the beginning of the 1930’s in the celebrated Fortnum & Mason department store. The exhibition was a huge success and eventually led to so many orders that it became necessary to set up a company—Artek—to manage the export orders. There is also another Artek-related coincidence, or more like a sign related to London. Ilmari Tapiovaara, a natural-born cosmopolitan, went abroad early on to gain practical experience, first as an intern with Finmar, then as a retailer selling Aalto’s furniture in London, and later to Paris as an apprentice in the office of Le Corbusier. Lessons learned abroad opened Tapiovaara’s eyes to internationalism and influenced his breakthrough as a pioneer of Nordic modernism. The roots of Artek lie in the international community. International networks have played a key role in the success story of Finnish design and in the expansion of Nordic modernism more generally. However, the concept of internationalism has changed significantly since the early years of Alvar and Ilmari. Travelling has become an everyday experience for all of us. Physical boundaries have become secondary. These days, networking and globalisation are part of everyone’s vocabulary.
Has internationalism become a natural characteristic for all of us? I believe that for many of us goes without saying. Global competition is getting tougher, and there are constantly more options and offerings to choose from. We therefore need to build stronger mainstays. I would like to congratulate The Finnish Institute in London. You are necessary to help us cross, if not physical, then intellectual borders and boundaries. This work calls for a good attitude: courage, openness and humility. HEL YES! in London was an excellent example of the necessary modern cosmopolitanism.
Nat han Waterhouse
Co-leader of OpenIDEO, IDEO
The experience of working in a new environment, culture and geography can be overwhelming at first. Firstly people dress and speak differently to you, they think you’re weird, and the way people do things can make life feel totally upside down. Sometimes it feels like your internal dialogue is tuned into two stations at once. So how do you keep your head, start fitting in, make friends, and enjoy your new work environment? Here’s a few tips: (to help write these, I enlisted the help of my fellow global colleagues at IDEO).
1. Go Native…
Dress like they dress, do what they do, eat what they eat. Explore your new terrain through all your senses. Instead of trying to understand why people do the things they do and making comparisons to where you’re from, just live the experience and ask questions later.
2. …But Don’t Lose Your Identity.
Working and living somewhere new, you soon discover people’s prejudices of where you’re from. It’s easy to get defensive, but there’s always a benefit to these stereotypes, so think of your identity as an asset, part of your key to fitting in and being accepted. Working abroad sometimes teaches us more about ourselves than we can learn staying at home simply because it gives us a new perspective.
3. Find the Commonalities.
We are more similar than we are different. Despite superficial cultural differences, human beings have core underlying things that motivate us. Looking for these can be reassuring but also help you connect to that culture on a deeper level.
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” —Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad, 1869
Johanna Lundberg and Elin Svensson, Designers and Collaborators
Connected Translocalit ies
by Eric Kluitenberg
“Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created the eternal, omnipresent speed.” (F.T. Marinetti, The Founding Manifesto of Futurism, 1909)*
*Source: F. T. Marinetti, The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism, in:
Umbro Appolonio, Futurists Manifesto’s, Thames and Hudson, London, 1973, pp. 19–24.
Why the Local Remains Essential in an Era of Global Networks
The Modernist fallacy that time and space have become irrelevant categories for historical experience is replicated today in the idea that the processes of economic and cultural globalisation are essentially placeless. However, as much as that the inherently anti-historical conception of the city by the Futurists and other modernist movements has been critiqued by a succession of architectural critics and movements, so too the idea of a placeless global culture is up for critique. This criticism is certainly not limited to closed minded restorative conceptions of a ‘purified’ local culture. Instead increasingly prominent critical social thinkers have pointed out that the new global systems of economy, politics, and networked communication are deeply rooted and dependent on specific local constellations, generally found in urban concentration zones. If the local indeed plays such a crucial role in the ‘production’ of the global, then local urban cultures offer also the most fruitful point of intervention for shaping our increasingly interdependent futures.
A Rootless Global Network Society
Places do not matter as such anymore, we are often told, they have become mere local instantiations of global processes that operate in a time/space beyond territory, beyond nationality, and without historical roots. Local culture is a flavour added to products that operate in a real-time system of transnational circulation—a mere variation in the same basic product-line. The aim of the system of real-time logistics is to to reduce the lag between production, distribution, and consumption to zero. In the drive for maximised efficiency cultural difference is seen as a hindrance to optimal resource allocation, rather than a valuable asset to be cherished and nourished. The local is a coordinate in a logistical grid, without further significance. So it seems. To recognise the continued urgency of intensive forms of cultural exchange, of a deep engagement with local cultures and understanding of the multiplicity of local sensibilities, it is this image of the abolishment of space and time, of local specificity, that must be critiqued first of all. However, it cannot be denied that this image of rootless global presence is widely persistent both with protagonists
and critics of the process of ‘globalisation’. This image of rootless hyper-circulation is reinforced by the rapid and widespread proliferation of digital network technologies, today more or less around the globe. The shift towards information in societies where the service and information processing sectors of the economy have become the largest and dominant, projects an ideology of immateriality (informatisation), ubiquity (omnipresence) and immediacy (speed) onto human affairs. The power, versatility, and comprehensiveness of the interconnected information infrastructures and transnational logistics appear to make the local completely subservient to these grand scale supranational systems. A new space of dominant power has thus come into being in the network society that takes dominance over local territories according to for instance sociologist Manuel Castells. Such images of ultimately powerful supranational systems instil a deep sense of helplessness in local populations. This feeling is not only disabling for a personal or communal sense of agency, of having the power to act and effect change, but more disconcertingly it can produce an even deeper sense of apathy and disconnection. Such images are certainly not limited to the academic study of economy and sociology, they replicate in popular culture and in the popular imagination, and therefore they also play out in (local) politics. The most problematic aspect of this popular imagery is that although the power and pervasive influence of global systems is obvious, the image is essentially misleading. Rather than accepting the premise that local conditions have become interchangeable and that rooted cultures have now been replaced by globalised assortments of generic ‘flavours’, it should be recognised that these global systems rely on specific localities and their local cultures to ‘produce’ and maintain them.
Creation of Meaning is Local
What the efficiency-drive of the real-time economy furthermore is unable to account for is the creation of meaning. Beyond the most basic of needs, it is a meaningful context for identification that creates a desire for the products circulating through the channels of real-time logistics. Meaning ultimately anchors in the local, in the lived experience of everyday affairs and social exchange, not in disembodied
electronically mediated interactions. And it is culture in turn through which meaning is ascribed to these experiences and exchanges. Given a system which is predicated on maximum efficiency and utility as its ultimate goal (global real-time logistics), it necessarily follows that this system has to be useful for something. And this thing for which it is useful, whatever that thing may be, is necessarily external to this process. The system ‘produces’ only efficiency, but meaning has to be given to these operations from the outside. Culture, the process of giving meaning to things, emanates from the embodied lived experiences of people and their interaction in a primarily local context. This does not mean that trans-national forms of culture cannot emerge or have no significance of their own. Bodies, however, always remain local, and the body remains the constitutive foundation of experience. Global culture can inscribe itself in all kinds of ways on the body. Its specific inscription, its incorporation, the ‘uses’ to which these inscriptions are put, remains dependent on the body which is local, always only in one place at once as the final point of integration of experience. The in my view inevitable conclusion should be that if one wants to act in this supranational environment (culturally, politically), it is the local that offers the point of entry and intervention. Both because global systems are produced and maintained locally, but also because experience and meaning remain rooted in the embodied conditions of the local. Within the emerging global constellations urban concentration zones play a crucial role in their development and sustenance. Most evidence gathered so far suggests that the role of urban centres is reinforced by the processes of globalisation and informatisation. For better or for worse it seems that the new urban conditions of an interconnected economic, cultural, and political constellation offer the most viable entry point for any kind of meaningful intervention, cultural, political or otherwise. To clarify this picture it is necessary to first take a closer look at the fallacy of placelessness in the theories of globalisation and the network society, as well as its manifestations in popular culture and imagination. From there alternative viewpoints can be introduced that can help us to better understand the contemporary conditions of the densely interconnected societies we inhabit. This can help to both elu125
cidate the relationship between local cultures and the international context as well as to bring back a sense of agency to the local actors on the global stage.
A Place of Flows
The famous trilogy The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture* by sociologist Manuel Castells is by far the most comprehensive study to date of the structural transformations of society under conditions of informatisation and increasing international integration. As impressive as this ambitious project may be, the analysis of a new kind of spatial organisation in society that Castells presents as part of his broad analysis is essentially misguided and ultimately damaging to the political process. Castells rightly observes that powerful economic and political elites are able to project increasing power over enlarged territories by the exponentially growing capacities for information transfer and processing. Network technologies in their own right, more than empowering local producers and cultural actors, allow global players to ever more finely tune their global offerings to local contexts, monitoring in near real-time the effects of every and any local action, and creating ever more efficient feedback loops. Local knowledge is replaced by immediate feedback and malleable supply chains. Given that information flows travel with electric speed, the speed of light, the exact position of a company headquarter becomes largely irrelevant, while the centres of economic and political power enhance their capacities to control territories afar.
*I will be referring here mostly to Volume I: Manuel Castells,
The Rise of the Network Society, Blackwell Publishers, Malden (Mass.), 1996.
Power no longer organises itself in these localities, it seems, but relocates to a dis-embodied sphere of informational interactions: Terminal screens tied to pervasive computer networks and information processing units. The feedback loops between local supply chains and strategic headquarters operate via electronic and fibre-optic networks—a constant flow of dematerialised signals that appears to have become wholly independent of the underlying territories. With their increased economic power, transnational companies establish and remove local branches and subsidiaries at will, in which a global class
of office workers is put to work who most often have little or no connection to the locality they work in. To Castells it seems that a spatial dichotomy has come into being with disastrous effects. Two increasingly unrelated spaces – the space of direct lived experience where people are born, grow up, and create ties to their environment, which he calls “the Space of Place”, and a second disembodied and interconnected sphere of informational interactions where increasingly economic, financial and political power is concentrated, which he calls “the Space of Flows”. Castells writes: “…people still live in places. But because function and power in our society are organised in the space of flows, the structural domination of its logic essentially alters the meaning and dynamic of places. Experience, by being related to places, becomes abstracted from power, and meaning is increasingly separated from knowledge. It follows a structural schizophrenia between two spatial logics that threatens to break down communication channels in society. The dominant tendency is toward a horizon of a networked, ahistorical space of flows, aiming at imposing its logic over scattered, segmented places, increasingly unrelated to each other, less and less able to share cultural codes. Unless cultural and physical bridges are deliberately built between those two forms of space, we may be heading toward life in parallel universes whose times cannot meet because they are warped into different dimensions of a social hyperspace.” *
*Castells, The Rise of the Network Society, 1996, p. 428.
Trapped in the Headlights of a Futurist Fatalism
While Castells is obviously right about the concentration of power in a networked sphere of informational interactions, the strict spatial dichotomy he sketches between the space of place and the space of flows is misleading and crippling for a sense of local agency. Rather than seeing the need to build bridges between places and flows, it should be recognised that these flows are deeply rooted in places, and that these places in turn are continually ‘activated’ in countless ways by these informational flows that pass through them. Rather than
seeing two spaces in opposition, it is necessary to try and understand how intricately places and flows are interwoven and continually influence and reshape each other. While Castells intention is to criticise the new global/informational constellations, he portrays them as absolutes and even as ahistorical. As if the Futurist manifesto has finally come to live and time and space have indeed died yesterday (or even the day before). Unwillingly this portrayal reinforces the idea of an unassailable (virtualised) fortress that lacks any connection with the local, with people’s lived experience, offering no point of identification nor of true critique. The suggestion is that we are all victims of a globalised culture, unable to defend ourselves, our identities, while nobody has any idea what this global culture actually constitutes. I see no reason for such fatalism. The feeling of being helplessly surrendered to incomprehensibly complex and all-encompassing system of technological ability (power) is a motive that replicates itself in popular culture. It emerged at first in sub-cultural genres such as cyber-punk and later also in mainstream science fiction imaginaries, where human beings are enslaved by grand scale information systems that control every aspect of life, most prominently of course in The Matrix trilogy by Andy and Larry Wachowski (1999–2003). Such pop cultural imaginaries seem far removed from critical social theory, but cultural imaginaries and anxieties about emerging technological superstructures are certainly not new. It is no coincidence, as also cultural theorist Andreas Huyssen has observed*, that exactly when large scale industrialisation and technologisation of everyday life took hold of European societies at the turn of the 18th to the 19th century, literature and popular imagination started to produce a multitude of images of machine bodies and blindly functioning world machines—technology replicating and replacing vital areas of human life, dominating human existence or even annihilating it. In retrospect these imaginations can be regarded as the signalling posts of large scale social conflict and change looming ahead of an overly engineering-centric vision of society’s future development.
*Andreas Huyssen, The Vamp and the Machine: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, in:
After the Great Divide, London, Macmillan Press, 1986, pp. 65–81.
How then to better asses current conditions and develop a more productive perspective for engagement and intervention? One important step forwards is to avoid unhelpful dichotomies and accept that embodied live experience and disembodied networked flows of information are both constitutive elements of our contemporary everyday reality. Marshall McLuhan’s image of media and information networks as the nervous system of contemporary society is already much closer to our everyday reality than the idea of an alien disembodied space of flows that imposes itself on scattered and unrelated ‘places’. As also Castells observes, all human activity deploys itself in time and space. To analyse both the spatial as well as the temporal characteristics of life, work, and experience in the era of global informational networks, an alternative spatial concept to Castells dichotomy of places and flows needs to be introduced—the idea of Hybrid Space. The Hybrid Space concept assumes that in any space a multitude of different spatial and temporal logics are at work simultaneously. Hybrid Space is composed of countless ‘places’ where people live, work, eat, sleep, exchange, procreate, trade, create, consume, and carry out their everyday activities, but these spaces are also permeated by countless flows that originate outside of that particular physical space, flows that connect local spaces to other localities, sometimes in real-time, sometimes asynchronously. I was first introduced to the concept of Hybrid Space, by architect Frans Vogelaar, while preparing the art project reBoot—a floating media art experiment*.
The project mixed up local and media spaces by creating a live transmission media unit on a large party boat moving from city to city along the Rhine from Cologne to Rotterdam and Amsterdam. For us the fascination was to combine this ancient space of flows, the trade river Rhine, with a new mixed up spatiality consisting of local embodied events and experiences around a constantly moving mobile media unit, and a continuous presence in a series of fixed media locations: live streams on the internet, and local television and radio
broadcasts. 50 artists living along the river contributed to a week of dense activity on the ship, moving from harbour to harbour as part of a cultural exchange program between The Netherlands and NorthRhine Westfalia. Rivers may play less of a role in global trade today, but container ships are crucial for the system of global transport. Our globalised supermarket offerings cannot be thought of without this ancient system of transport.
Rooted Information Networks in Physical Space
Every lived social space, every ‘place’, is hybrid in nature consisting of embodied elements and a variety of flows. The density of flows passing through and permeating these spaces varies dramatically from place to place. The density of informational flows has risen dramatically with the advent of broadcast signals (radio and TV), then with electronic information networks (internet), and now exponentially with the rise of mobile communication technologies and wireless internet access (smart phones). It is utterly pointless to regard the informational aspect of these spaces as a self-contained sphere independent of the local territory. Already within a single building availability of information carrier waves and signals (i.e. whether your smart phone can connect to the internet or gsm or not) can vary dramatically depending on where you are inside. The crucial issue at stake is not the mere presence of disembodied information networks, but their connection points with(in) physical spaces, the inter-weaving of mediated flows and embodied presences. The density of signals and their accessibility or the ability to disconnect from all these flows will determine the degree of coercion (traceability) and agency (the power to act in a given situation by informational means) that these dense hybridised spaces allow for. Power relations in hybrid space are constantly negotiated. As much as authorities can use the new mobile technologies to trace and thereby control their underlings, so can ordinary citizen redraw the territory and use the layering of informational technologies to self-organise and act. This can empower democratic reform movements as much as rioting street-gangs. Control over these hybrid spaces is not evenly dispersed. Companies control access points and terms of service, while authorities regulate the wave-spectrum, but connected swarms
of users break open the ‘jail’ of their devices to self-determine what use they put their devices to. Information networks are appropriated and abandoned when no longer useful. Informational corporate giants arise seemingly overnight (Google), but can just as easily disappear within the shortest space of time (compare Facebook and myspace in the social networking world for instance). The crucial question here is that of public agency in hybrid space. In 2006 we compiled a special issue of Open, Journal for Arty and the Public Domain*, that explored this question in depth. The issue highlights the contradictory and often confusing nature of the intersections of mediated flows and embodied (public) space. But it clearly shows how the volatility and indeterminacy of hybrid space opens up an energising perspective for artistic, cultural and political intervention.
*Articles available for download at: www.skor.nl/eng/publications/item/open11-hybrid-space-how-wireless-media-are-mobilizing-public-space?single=1
The Urban Context
Local contexts are by no means neutral, nor are they powerless. The ceaseless interrogation of the emerging conditions of globalisation by sociologist Saskia Sassen points out the crucial role that specific localities play in producing and maintaining the new global constellations. In the 1990s she developed here now famous analysis of global cities and their role in the international financial system, focussing specifically on London, Tokyo and New York*. In Sassen’s analysis it becomes clear that only in certain highly condensed urban concentration zones can the capabilities, knowledge, expertise (technological, financial, economic) and the concentration of power be found that can produce the new systems of global economic and financial exchange.
*Saskia Sassen, The Global City: New York, London, Tokyo, Princeton
University Press, 1991/2001
As a result these new global financial and economic systems are deeply rooted in these localities and depend on them for their survival. These new globalised economic constellation are equally dependent on the proliferation of network technologies and constant informational flows to expand their reach and control over distant territories. Rather than decentralising economic flows and possibilities the expan131
sion of these networking structures have had enormous centralising effects, accompanied by an exponential concentration of political and ultimately cultural power in these urban concentration zones.
Re-Emergence of the City State and Translocality
This spawns a series of curious effects: Both the international and the local (urbanised) scale of social organisation become ever more important in these new constellations, while the national seems to wane. The nation state as an organising principle does not disappear (as is sometimes claimed). Instead it is structurally changed and folds inwards in a myriad of complex ways as a result of the creation of economic exclusion zones, diversified migration policies, transnational corporate structures, and supra national governance structures. In her more recent study, “Territory, Authority, Rights”* Sassen explores these transformations in great detail and theorises the re-emergence of the city(-state) as a newly invigorated unit of social organisation.
*Saskia Sassen, Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global
Assemblages, Princeton University Press, 2006.
There is, however, a more surprising side-effect of the reliance of the new global constellations on relatively open network structures. Rather than attempting to assert influence on transnational systems of governance via the vertical hierarchies of nation-states, local actors, both local governments as well as local civic interest groups, are increasingly discovering how they can network ‘horizontally’ through direct links with other local actors in other localities who face similar concerns. A new type of trans-locality emerges out of such horizontal networks that can address a wide variety of political, environmental, economic and even cultural issues. In her book Sassen suggests that the Medieval city state and its local concentration of economic, political, cultural and knowledge producing capabilities provides an insightful model for thinking of the new networked localities. Sassen’s analysis points out that the local becomes ‘multiscalar’ through these horizontally networked connections. While individual localities may seem and feel helpless, their connection to other localities can create a different scale at which to act and assert influence. These horizontally networked localities become especially
powerful when the urban concentration zones that bring together the capabilities, knowledge and expertise that the global constellations of interconnected economic and financial flows rely on to keep functioning, connect with each other bypassing vertical hierarchies of political power and control.
Repositioning Cultural Work in the Local/Global Context
The dependence of the new global constellations of economic and political globalisation on situated urban localities means that they become deeply rooted in specific local cultures. Innovative and dynamic localities that can bring together the intensive knowledge and experimental resources demanded by these simultaneously global and local constellations require a deeply rooted intellectual, academic and artistic context. It is this context that offers the knowledge, infrastructure, but also the innovative capacities galvanised by the presence of a multiplicity of experimental cultures open to exploring and realising new ways of organising human affairs. The urban context offers the possibility for the plurality of people and cultures to manifest itself in the public domain of the streets, squares, theatres, dining halls, clubs, parliaments, underneath the arcades. But the amorphous notion of the ‘urban’ needs to become a place first, a city with its own particular history, cultural sensitivity, and atmosphere, connected to a multitude of other cities: connected trans-localities. The urban needs to be located in a city’s specificity to become this place, so that it can offer a home to the people who will create its unknown future. Experimental artistic and cultural exploration plays an often grossly underestimated role in creating the open laboratory where the new conditions of an as yet unimaginable future of society can be tried out. Where it can be rigorously tested, relentlessly discarded if necessary, without lethal risks for society. Cultural work needs urgently to create frameworks of openness where the cultures of the new and unknown can thrive. Without it disgruntled citizens and corporations will quickly by-pass all vertical structures to establish their own direct horizontal links with other localities, and if necessary relocate there. Presence of this vanguard is a constant negotiation. The inherently hybrid composition of these connected trans133
localities means that a multiplicity of heterogeneous spatial and temporal logics will be at work in such places, amplified by a plethora of communicative links, making them truly ‘Places of Flows’.
Eric Kluitenberg is an independent writer, theorist and researcher based in Amsterdam. He was head of the Media and Technology Program of De Balie, centre for culture and politics of Amsterdam (1999–2011) and has taught and lectured at a variety of European universities.
by Sirkka Heinonen
Cross-border interaction is increasingly being enhanced by various social-media tools, and their advance is not limited solely to technical developments. Apart from accessing information, other, deeper aspects of interaction, selfexpression and feedback, and the ability to exert an influence, are also important.
This process is particularly being speeded up by the trend towards prosumerism (producers + consumers): in which the roles of producer-consumer, teacher-pupil, urban planner-resident, journalistreader are moving closer together and the divisions between them becoming less clear. In order to be successful, cross-border virtual interaction needs to focus more on locality—an acknowledgement of local communities’ specific cultural characteristics, traditions and hopes for the future. Temporal interaction between the present situation and the future possibilities—future dialogue—is also important. Globalisation and the digital society are allowing a civil society to become a global civil society, in which interactions between different cultures have fertile soil to grow.
Even though in the information society traffic and actions are increasingly virtual, information and communication technologies have also enabled economic globalisation, more efficient transport and production networks, as well as extensive specialisation of production. Thus, physical movement of both people and goods has increased. The increased movement of people has created a new kind of multi-localism (Heinonen & Ruotsalainen 2011). The concept of locality involves performing functions at a certain time and in a certain place. People’s everyday actions, such as living, working, consuming, moving about, and socialising and interacting occur in certain places. In a temporal sense these actions and functions can be labelled real-time or desynchronized, which means that things occur at different times. For example, work that is not dependent on time and space is actually performed in many different times and places. It is useful to picture multi-locality as a series of expanding circles. How broad is a person’s living space in relation to their physical place of residence? There are many circles around a home: apartment, neighbourhood, residential area, municipality, region, country, continent, the Earth, space. In which circles and in which places does the person feel at home? When speaking of multi-locality, we should bear in mind that the concept of space is also changing. What is space? Is it a meeting point? A place where we have experiences? Is it a slow or a stimulating place? Physical, virtual, digital, social, mental, public,
private and semi-public spaces—all of these are united and verified as different representations in a person’s daily routine and activities.
The Experience Society
Information technology, the strengthening of the role of the economy, developments in the global distribution of work, the capitalist logic of appreciation, and the expectations and demands of civil society are currently leading away from the information society towards something new—a society of meanings and experiences. The development and evolution of society is gradual and variable, and occurs in successive phases. We have gone from hunting-and-gathering, nomad and agricultural societies to the industrial and, finally, the information society. From a global perspective, these shifts do not occur simultaneously. Finland, the UK and other developed countries have already reached the information-society phase, while in some other parts of the world an agricultural society is still very much the norm. A shift from one phase to another does not mean the end of the previous phases. They simply recede into the background, and future developments and directions are determined largely by the new dominant phase, which defines and drives production, the economy, technology and socio-cultural changes. The experience society is based on the experience economy, which involves basing the production and consumption of products and services largely on the search for experiences. In this stage of society, movement and transport are particularly linked to the development of the individual’s persona and to significant experiences, and increasingly involve the transportation and distribution of immaterial products in information networks. The type of movement characteristic of an experience society also has an impact on the deepening of inter-cultural interaction mentioned above. The experience economy is a step away from the mere consumption experience towards more contextualised consumption experiences (Jensen 1996; Rifkin 2002; Pine & Gilmore 1999). Customer tailoring— individual adaptations and combinations of products and services for the special needs of the customer—becomes important. The integration of identities and meanings into products and services requires a new approach. We talk about the need for experience services, experience business and experience leadership. The experience economy is
linked to greater wealth and higher living standards, in which it can take the form of extreme experiences or require and consume a lot of energy and resources. The experience society can also mean appreciating very simple experiences, such as silence, slowness, nature and outdoor activities, or having more spare time with those close to us. The key megatrends affecting mobility, experiences and multi-locality are climate change, demographic developments (ageing and population growth), globalisation and digitalisation. The search for experiences can be both individualistic and community-based, and greater emphasis is placed on seeking a meaningful life and experiences that are more under the individual’s control and match the individual’s way of life. These examples indicate that society—emphasising experience—is moving more towards being a society of meaning, in which the centre and driving force is the meaning economy. This implies that, in the future, ability and expertise in recognising and understanding various meanings will be an increasingly valuable resource. (Heinonen 2008; 2010).
Strategy for the Future
Having useful skills and expertise in the future will require more strategic future planning and foresight so as to be able to identify and adapt to future trends and developments, as well as investing more in ecological innovations. These skills, which will be increasingly needed in the future economy and society, must be within the reach of everyone, and it is especially important to ensure that younger generations have the tools to learn and use them. This includes the younger generations still in school. In order to achieve this, more tools for younger people are required. Every organisation, company, city and nation/society should draw up a specific, comprehensive strategy for the future that explores, over a relatively long timespan, alternative future developments, trends and possibilities, with special attention being paid to mutual connections and disconnections between the relevant sectors, public administration, activities and system dynamics. We are currently reaching a tipping point—the availability of energy, food and clean water will become critical for survival globally. Apart from creative, ecologically effective and ecologically intelligent
solutions, we also have to consider ecological sufficiency—reasonable, sustainable ways of using energy and resources in communities. For example, Finnish expertise might transform smart scarcity into new business opportunities for companies, and generate welfare for citizens. At the same time, it is important to ensure that everyone can cope in the increasingly tough competition for jobs and income. It is especially important to prevent social exclusion and youth deprivation.
Creatively Sustainable Communities
In urban planning the interaction between communities and neighbourhoods works best when the ideas and the voice of all the individual actors and the culture are taken into account and used to come up with the best practises for building creatively sustainable communities. Because of the worrying global megatrends of climate change and economic crisis the skills and innovations needed to utilise scarce resources, and especially to promote renewable energy resources, will be in great demand. International contacts between cultures and the various actors, and the integration of the capabilities of both scientists and artists are aimed at creating ecologically aesthetic communities—sustainable and comfortable environments. The ideal is to create self-sustaining communities. The well-being and health of the population go hand in hand with the search for ecological efficiency. The ongoing debate about the financial crisis shows that we are currently at a crossroads. The myth of progress and the logic of constant growth as the basis for welfare have been challenged. Economic growth is, of course, needed to produce welfare services, but the means for achieving growth have now been put under the microscope. The degrowth movement has gained increasing support. However, supporters of the old economic model that seeks continual growth reject this without further thought, simply because of the negative connotations of the term ‘de-growth’. It might therefore be more beneficial to talk and think about new growth models and approaches to the economy, in which the emphasis is on what growth is to be generated, and how. Immaterial products and services, and growth generated by innovations are at the centre of the new economics and are the main sources of growth. Economic sustainability is achieved here when the process
does not consume more resources than the surrounding environment and ecology will allow. In contrast, the growth model in which natural resources and energy are wasted is unsustainable. Harnessing information and communication technology to create an information society and an economy in accordance with the principles of sustainable development would take us to the threshold of a new paradigm in economics and technology. Urban planning and futures studies share a lot of common ground and have similar interests. Both deal with wide-ranging, complex issues and apply a long-term approach to trying impact on and influence future directions and options. Cities and communities are planned, developed and built with future generations in mind. The great challenge of community planning is also to make boost the vitality of the suburbs and to develop new city concepts. I recently visited England where I explored two of the world’s first garden cities, both near London (Letchworth and Welwyn). The father of garden-city ideology, Ebenezer Howard, developed a third alternative for metropolitan areas and the countryside in his book Garden Cities of Tomorrow (1902). According to Howard, a self-sufficient, independent, networked garden city should have plenty of parks and gardens, as well as apartments, manufacturing facilities and cultural institutions. In fact, this original garden-city idea is a potential solution for the cities of the future, which face the challenges of the current megatrends towards energy conservation and, on the other hand, the townspeople’s hopes for a good life, which are currently only expressed in weak signals, but which might swiftly become louder demands and clearer hopes for a good life in the future.
Sirkka Heinonen is a professor of futures research at Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku. She is also Member of the Club of Rome and Co-Chair of Helsinki Node of the Millennium Project.
Howard, Ebenezer, Garden Cities of To-Morrow (1902). Reprinted, edited with a Preface by F. J. Osborn and an Introductory Essay by Lewis Mumford. London 1946.
Jensen, Rolf (1999). The Dream Society. How the Coming Shift from Information to Imagination Will Transform Your Business. McGraw-Hill, New York. Pine, J. & Gilmore, J. (1999) The Experience Economy. Harvard Business School Press, Boston. Rifkin, Jeremy (2000). The Age Of Access. The New Culture of Hypercapitalism, Where All of Life is a Paid-For Experience. Putnam Publishing Group, New York. Heinonen, Sirkka & Ruotsalainen, Juho (2011). Kestävä monipaikkaisuus. Sitran Tulevaisuusklinikan 10.12.2010 tulokset TUTUeJULKAISUJA 2/2011. (Sustainable Multi-Locality. Results from Sitra’s Futures Clinique December 10, 2010, In Finnish with an English abstract in TUTUe Publications by Finland Futures Research Centre, University of Turku). Heinonen, Sirkka (2010). Rethinking the critical triangle between humans, nature and technology. World affairs. The Journal of International issues. Vol 14 No 3 Autumn (July-Sept.) 2010, 126–147. New Delhi. Heinonen, Sirkka (2008). What will the world be like in 85 years? In: “Departure 2093—Five visions of future flying”. Finnair, Helsinki, 14–17 and 64.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Notes:
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Notes:
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Notes:
The Finnish Institute is a London-based private trust. Our mission is to identify emerging issues relevant to contemporary society and to act as catalyst for positive social change through partnerships. We encourage new and unexpected collaborations and support artistic interventions, research, the creative industries, foresight and social innovation in new, socially central areas. The Finnish Institute is one of the 17 Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes and is core-funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland. The Institute is a founding member of EUNIC—the London cluster of the European Union National Institutes for Culture.
Erik Allardt, Academy of Finland Yrjö Blomstedt, The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies Michael Branch, School of Slavonic and East European Studies Jorma Bäckman, Finnish Seamen’s Mission in London Frederik Cleve, Åbo Akademi University G.E.B. Coe, British Council Arna Davies, Finnish Church Guild P. Hautaniemi, The National Union of University Students in Finland Hannu Heikkilä, The Federation of Finnish Learned Societies Paavo Hohti, Finnish Cultural Foundation Matti Ilmanen, Finnish Cultural Foundation K.Janhunen, Finnish Trade Guild Heikki Kallio, Academy of Finland Toivo Katila, Helsinki University of Technology Kari Kujanen, Federation of Finnish British Societies Lauri Lindgren, University of Turku Eino Lyytinen, University of Helsinki Paula Mattila, The Association of Teachers of English in Finland Timo Relander, Confederation of Finnish Industries Matti Rissanen, University of Helsinki Antti Tanskanen, University of Jyväskylä Päiviö Tommila, University of Helsinki Mirja Tolsa, The Association of Teachers of English in Finland Johan Wrede, University of Helsinki
Cross-cultural and cross border connections are the foundations of creativity and new ideas. These connections are always between people and the ideas emerge as people formerly unknown to each other meet and share thought and action. What exactly happens when people meet, when they share ideas, exchange views and form partnerships? What is it like to go abroad or work at home with colleagues from foreign countries and develop concepts and projects? What does crossing physical and mental borders mean, and what kind of challenges and opportunities does it create? These questions are at the heart of our work at The Finnish Institute in London. This book celebrates the Institute’s first 20 years in London. It is about international encounters in the realm of the civil society and it presents some of those who have witnessed it in action.
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