Blog post of June 2018: What if the future of music came from the Far North? There is no doubt that Nordic and Finnish musicians play an important role in the international music scene. Every category has a Nordic touch : vocal and instrumental music, metal, traditional and contemporary music, and jazz. Unlike here in the South, there are no fixed boundaries between musical languages in the North. Every musical genre finds its place between tradition and modernity, fusing into a fertile synergy without losing its own character. This is one of the cultural strengths of the Nordic countries.
Blog post of May 2018: For several years, this small international festival has been experimenting with new curatorial practices in a fierce and open way. The festival distinguishes itself by introducing co-curating, by politicising curatorship, and by rethinking the international. Baltic Circle hereby positions itself as a forerunner and is an ideal ground to visit with students who are themselves operating in the field of “expanding curation”. Three students, their tutor (Lara Staal, independent curator and publicist) and artistic director of DAS Theatre Barbara Van Lindt visited the festival and proposed some moments of exchange. In January we invited artistic director of the Festival Satu Herrala to visit us, and engage in a conversation where we reflected upon our visit (and already anticipated a next visit, in the autumn of 2018…)
Blog post of April 2018: Less than two months ago I moved from Tokyo to Brussels, straight into the heart of Europe and the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux’s great programming for 2018! We have our excellent previous Director Aleksi Malmberg to thank for carrying out the preparations for the start of the year, as well as our amazing team, with whom I now have the privilege of adding new initiatives and ideas to the programme.
Blog post of February 2018: “Okay, so there’s nothing here on the Sami people”, I noticed at the end of an introductory tour of the House of European History. I was visiting the relatively new House of European History at the beginning of February as part of a group of twenty odd individuals involved in the Remembering 1918 programme. Each one of us had the task that day of leading our own public tours of the House of European History. After the introductory tour, we were given a few hours to prepare to offer our own views on the museum’s exhibition which deals with European history.
Blog post of January 2018: “Last autumn, my colleague Timo Wright and I sat down for a cup of coffee in Helsinki’s city centre. Our gallery, Unknown Cargo, had not seen any major activities for about year now and we were both itching to start a new project. Timo had been toying with the idea of running some kind of residency programme for a while and brought it up again. The idea appealed to me immediately and that meeting became the beginning of Artist Residency Swap, or ARS. ‘ARS’ was used at first only as a working title, but we grew to like it so much that it became the final project name.”
Blog post of November 2017:
Hundreds of Brusselians yell the Finnish curse word with devoted rolling R’s. And again!
Belgium’s first Feminist Curse Night is here. First of its kind outside Finland, where the concept was created by feminist think tank Hattu. They have organised nearly ten of these events in Finland, all very popular, and to honour the country’s centenary year, Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux and Beursschouwburg cultural centre have brought the concept to the very heart of Europe.
Blog post of October 2017: “In 2015, together with the Finnish cultural institutes of Paris, London and Berlin, we began planning a large-scale project centered around the theme of home. We could hardly imagine what a journey it would be.”
Blog post of June 2017: “Refugees: a new category of people that has erupted onto the surface of our troubled contemporary world. Millions of displaced people who have become a population that could fill a country of its own, waiving their own Olympic flag and creating a ‘crisis’ in international hallways. Besides the suffering, the most distressing part for a refugee is having fallen under this shameful label – the loss of home. No matter where refugees settle, their loss is irreplaceable. There is no place like home.”
The blogpost of May 2017: “During Sweating for Europe Members of the European Parliament come closer to citizens than perhaps ever before. In a relaxing sauna atmosphere they discuss Brexit and the future of Europe – a conjointly organized event to celebrate Finland’s independence, which was achieved 100 years ago.”
Blog post of April 2017: “Annukka Vähäsöyrinki, Head of Projects at the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, interviewed Xander Karskens, the curator of the Finnish Pavilion for the Venice Biennale and visited the studio of biennale artists Erkka Nissinen and Nathaniel Mellors at the Rijksakademie in Amsterdam on 1 March 2017.”
Blog text of Mars 2017: “Finnish literature is flourishing in the Dutch language area. In the past years, on average more than six new titles per year found their way to Dutch and Belgian readers, and several translators from the mentoring program of the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux have made their debut as a literary translator. But the translator is more than a wordsmith: he is the pre-eminent link between two languages and cultures. Is there a role for the translator as literary agent?”
Blog text of February 2017: “In the ruins, our own personal temporality becomes intermingled with that of humankind, with history, nature and even our geological time. When you stretch the perspective of temporality enough, you notice that we all live in the ruins of the future. I find this thought fascinating.”
Blog post of January 2017: “The absurdity of our times is palpable. Climate change is like a slow-motion atomic bomb whose red release-button we are gradually pushing deeper and deeper. While fully aware of the resulting planetary chaos, we subsidize this trigger-pushing on the order of trillions of euros a year. Mass extinction of life on earth is an accepted by-product, the “collateral damage” of this extractive economy. An ideological privatization of everything animate, inanimate, (un)conscious or affective puts every aspect of existence in the hands of the profit-motive and nature, health, welfare, liberty and the very fabric of our societies is being torn apart in the process.”
Blog post of December 2016: “The mobility of art works and artists, and international collaborations increase income potential for artists, lengthen the life cycle of an art work, and improve the balance between the open market and institutions.”
The blog post of November 2016: “On 24 October the Finnish Cultural Institute for the Benelux, the Finnish Institute in London, Felm, and the Media Diversity Institute organised a workshop at the European Federation of Journalists headquarters in Brussels. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the challenges journalists face when reporting on migration, asylum seekers and conflict, and to raise a dialogue on the preconditions and effects of journalism and on the challenges of reporting migration and the so called ‘refugee crisis’ in the press.”
Blog post of October 2016: “By comparing research on the factors affecting internationalisation in different sectors, one notices differences between practices and guidelines. The biggest concerns in the cultural field, however, are often shared across sectors”.
Blog post of September 2016: “I have thought of art as an axiom of internationalism, since I have experienced art as a means to reach the very core of humanity, a core that does not recognise national borders. What a wonderful instrument the European Union offers to achieve this.”
Blog post of July 2016: “Theatre is a great way to get to know unfamiliar societies and cultures. It acts as a mirror, through which people observe, criticize, reflect upon and laugh at themselves, and through which they reveal their shortcomings and defend their values.”
The blog post of May 2016: “The media plays a big part in defining which topics are spoken of and from which viewpoint. For example, understanding of the so called “refugee crisis” forms according to how it is covered in press and who gets to comment on it.”
Blog post of March 2016: “The performing arts in Belgium are flourishing. It seems they are afforded a particular space of their own, as well as significant creative freedom, within society.”
Blog post of February 2016: “Is it possible to update rather than oppose, the meaning of nationalism?”
Blog post of January 2016: “A grant funding system focused on generating Finnish narratives of success has become such an entrenched part of the country’s arts scene that it is now almost impossible to imagine an alternative to it.”
Blog post of December 2015: “One measure of a stable society is how quickly it can return to normal, to reinstate trust, following an emergency.”
Blog post of November 2015: “Most cultural institutions in the Netherlands did not think twice about making their care for ‘the other’ clear.”
Blog post of October 2015: “It is not my responsibility to write something literal, state the obvious or produce answers. My responsibility is to create the Circumstances where something significant might occur.”
Blog post of September 2015: “Europe is a patchwork of opportunities for circus and to be working in this field one MUST look beyond the borders.”
Blog post of April 2015: “In Finland the parliamentary election fever is reaching its peak now that there are less than three weeks to election day. It does however seem that questions concerning culture and the arts have been pushed on a side track by the mainstream media.”