Ask filmmaker Ayo Okunseinde to position himself in the current art/culture trajectory and he will tell you he feels the most resonance with the post-post modernist camp. On a recent trip to Paris, he shot 21 short type films on 15 millimeter, presented them as individual films then mixed them to create an abstract piece that was presented in a gallery show in Washington, DC. "I'm very into the idea of appropriation and recontextualization of images and sound and the possibilities of 2.0 technology," says Okunseinde, a partner in Dissident Display, an award-winning design studio and gallery focused on progressive contemporary art and media. "I also like the concept of mixing cultures and theories. So I can take, let's say, dance theory, and apply that theory to music, or apply musical theory to visual art and then apply that to culture and cultural understanding. I find that, in mixing those ideas, you arrive at a new understanding of the world."
Collaborating with choreographer Maida Withers on a new work for which they were awarded a grant from the DC Commission for the Arts and Humanities to perform in Mexico, Okunseinde created the base video compilation of the concept for projection as Withers danced and the accompanying musician performed. "We reorganize the images, the sound, the dance, so as time goes on, and as it's performed each time, it evolves in the moment."
In Helsinki, Okunseinde plans on interviewing artists in the contemporary arts scene. He'll be working on a multimedia scape of Helsinki, an immersive environment with sound, video, and images that will give people a sense of his experience. "I'm bringing everything back to DC and presenting my discoveries in SCENE, our video magazine and in my future lectures and performances."
The Cultural Office is an administrative body of the City of Helsinki established to foster an encouraging atmosphere and a climate suitable for producing and experiencing art and culture in Helsinki. The Office aims to strengthen the status of culture in decision-making and is actively involved in international networks.
Operational focus areas:
The programme for the visit will concentrate on presenting Helsinki's arts and culture, our cultural policies and current topics of debate. Helsinki is an active and versatile city which regards the provision of activities and events as important. The visitor will become acquainted with a wide range of actors and events from various fields (visual arts, music, dance, theatre). The festival scene will also receive focus, as it is one of Helsinki's cultural priorities. The host in Helsinki will be Pekka Timonen, Cultural Director of the City of Helsinki.
1. People of Helsinki (warm and inviting)
2. Smoke Sauna (Birch branch beating & 0 degree ice water)
3. Smoked Reindeer (over rye with a cold Koff)
4. Cable Factory (so many artists... so little time)
5. Mämmi, Tervasnapsi & Zetor (late night Karaoke & Finn Hits)
It is the 2nd of April... in a few hours I will be on the plane heading to Finland. The excitement of visiting Helsinki has finally reached a boiling point. My excitement is uncontainable. Thoughts run through my head about how my expectations of the city and its people will match the reality.
I have prepared myself as much as possible... Finnish dictionary... check, Passport... check, Ticket... check... and yet I feel I am forgetting something.... OH yeah call my mother... will do that in a minute.
That's all for now... If I catch by chance to ride a wifi hotspot I will drop another comment... will then it's Helsinki or Bust.
The flight is late so I am taking my departure from JFK with a beer and a smile.
Beside me... my new friend Maddox Monteka, young, stylish, recently unemployed... but heading to Estonia via Helsinki.
Coincidentally she is from Prince George's County, not too far from Washington DC. Truly delightful to have her company and serves as an additional illustration on how small the world is. It validates the cultural re-mix philosophy. We spend our time updating twitter, FBing each other, the obligatory picture taking and poking fun at our fellow travelers.
-Finnair AY 0006 L 02APR 1740 LLXECO...
-Plugging in my headphone...
All countries have their own version of cheesy pop & heavy metal music... Finland is no different. Channel 3 - the on-board flight entertainment delighted me with hours of Finnish metal - taking me back to the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest
Switching to channel 4...
I get a wonderful Finnish pop rendition of Donna Summer's "I will Survive", abruptly interrupted by a cabin announcement on turbulence.
Switching to channel 10...
The best top blues songs ever!!!.
I had ziti and meatballs...
Yummy... just LOVE airplane food (seriously I do), but don't love the toddlers kicking the back of my seat.
ok, ok... 1 day behind on my posts, but getting to the fun part.
I arrived yesterday at "Helsinki-Vantaan", and was met by a friendly Sara Kuusi, one of my hosts from the City of Helsinki.
The sad $65 travel change in my pocket translated to an even sadder €35, this will do for now.
Sara is kind enough to hail a taxi for us and we head through the foggy morning mist to the city center. We discuss, amongst other things, the difference between Washington DC and Helsinki in terms of public vs private funding for artists and arts organization..
Sara and I took a stroll around the city today.
Friday, April 3rd.
Reception at the old City Hall, hosted by the Deputy Mayor Pekka Sauri
Dinner with fellow program participants and hosts, Pluto & City of Helsinki staff.
Finally getting some time to upload the rest of my journal... sorry for the delay fans ;) So I believe I left off with the reception given by Deputy Mayor Pekka Sauri... The next day Saturday 4.4. I was off to the Cable Factory. I had heard soooo much about it.... but had no idea.
This art complex is gigantic, housing everything from artists studios to dance, theater, martial arts spaces.
Interview with artist Pirjetta Branderat the Cable Factory. Pirjetta has been a part of the Cabel Factory establishment for the past 20 years
Jani picked me up from Cable Factory and introduced me to his sauna club. I took in the sauna experience... the whole thing, 6 different smoke saunas of varying intensities (mild to burn your ears off), 5 ice water dips (0 degrees Celsius) into the Baltic Sea, birch branch beating and a snack of cold smoke reindeer... all done in by birthday suit. I will spare you the nude shots... but must recommend EVERYONE take in the sauna when next in Helsinki.
Jazz jam concert JAZZ HEAT BONGO BEAT at Kulttuuritalo. Great jazz fusion/funk concert. Got a chance to interview some of the musicians. I was impressed by the musicians depth of knowledge related to jazz history and practice. For more information about the organization that put together this wonderful event please visit www.flowfestival.com
I was scheduled to attend “Hot Spring - This is it” – a concert at Tavastia club, with various performers then“Ihme club” at the Old Student House, but instead I was kidnapped by Jaana and Noora ;) They took me on the 3b tram to there local haunts… I did not resist. The night included bad Finnish karaoke, Koof beer, bad Russian dancing and the greatest Finn Hits at Zetor topped with shots of Terva Snapsi.
Visited the Pixelache festival of electronic art at the Kiasma museum (www.pixelache.ac). Met with Minna Piirainen, producer of the festival and Natalie Aubry, the Helsinki producer.
Pixelache is an electronic art festival originated in Helsinki, but has elements that has spread to multiple countries including France, Germany, Hungary. I was scheduled to present some video work at this festival, but was unable to due to time and an unexpected surge in participants. Instead the festival participants and I just techno-geeked out discussing subjects from DYI art to Wifi signal receptors. I would recommend anyone interested in electronic arts to research this festival.
The festival includes exhibitions, paper presentations and conferences on art and social actions. I got a chance to interview Natalie and some of the participants. The festival is held with support from the theatre arm of the Kiasma museum.
Had breakfast with Finland's Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb. I had done some research before my meeting , and thus was able to pose a wide range of questions from Russia policy to his love/hate relationship with the media.
We discussed Finland's stance on homelessness, immigration and nationalism. Additionally we analyzed the significance of public funding for the arts and it's balance with increasing private funding opportunities. Position on NATO, response to Russian threat and Finland's position in an Increasingly global landscape where other topics discussed. Unfortunately I was not permitted to bring in my video camera for this breakfast, but I was left impressed and satisfied.
Stubb represents the new guard of politicians replete with media savvy and an inclusive global approach to Finland's issues. Stubb came to his position in 2008 after the ouster of Ilkka Kanerva for inappropriate SMS messaging, a topic that seems to put an internal smile on Stubb's face. He is known affectionately as "The Smile"... and oh yeah... join the Alexander Stubb facebook group (if only to appreciate the coiffure) http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=10728293450
Spent the day at the Arabianranta, entertaining meetings and interviews at University of Arts and Design Helsinki (www.taik.fi/en). Like the Cable Factory this complex is expansive. The building house design studios, ceramics / metal / wood workshops, an advance media lab, photography studios, painting studios and film / video studios. Taik allows for maximum interdisciplinary integration of these art forms.
I was shown the complex by a student of ceramics Lasse Granroth and was granted a compelling interview by Teemu Leinonen, professor of new media design at the MediaLaboratory . Unfortunately I was unable to meet with Inka Finell a representative of the department of environmental art in charge of Creating Spaces, an exchange program with China and Chinese artists.
On roaming the halls of Taik, I met and interviewed Petra Ahde, a researcher and doctoral candidate at the Design Connections Doctoral School. Her research dealt with the capture and exchange of emotion and sentiments via jewelry. Adhe created electronic bracelets that allows individuals to exchange compositing elements thus allowing for a unique variation and exchange of jewls within ones social network. This exchange of elements signifies the exchange of emotions and sentiments within ones social network. Think of it as the physical manifestation of Facebook.
The Arabianranta also houses the factory and showroom of the famed Finnish design group Iittala (http://www.iittala.com)