Fellowship Program for Visual Arts Professionals
Editor: Ilari Laamanen Design: Johanna Lundberg Published by: The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York Printer: GĂśteborgstryckeriet, 2017 Proofreaders: Inari Pesonen & Janna Jalkanen Greenhill Edition: 500 The publication is realized with the support by Kone Foundation. MOBIUS Fellowship Program has been generously supported by: Kone Foundation Ministry of Education and Culture of Finland Svenska Kulturfonden (The Swedish Cultural Foundation in Finland) Consulate General of Finland in New York
MOBIUS Fellowship Program was initiated by The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and The Finnish Institute in London. The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York was established in 1990 as a residency center for Finnish artists, designers and architects. Deriving from that legacy, all the FCINY's functions aim towards setting people and ideas in motion, and creating international dialogue, as well as dialogue between visual art forms. This happens through the residencies and other mobility programs, but also through organizing exhibitions and events, and actively communicating about progressive contents of the visual arts. The Finnish Institute in London is a private, non-profit trust bringing together individuals, communities and organisations. The Instituteâ€™s mission is to identify emerging issues important to contemporary society in Finland, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The Institute encourages cross-disciplinary and cross-border collaboration by creating networks and building new partnerships.
MOBIUS is organized by:
F I NNI SH CULTURAL I NST I T UTE I N NE W YORK
This manual is meant to act as a tool and inspiration for individuals and organizations interested in international partnerships and mobility. It looks back to the first three years of MOBIUSâ€”a transatlantic fellowship program aimed at visual arts professionals in New York, UK, Republic of Ireland and Finland. Like the program (organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Finnish Institute in London) this publication, too, is flexible by its nature. One can start browsing it from either end, and pick any section in any order. There is no grand narrative but instead a multitude of voices that all constitute to the whole.
Kaarina Gould & Pauliina Ståhlberg Ideas on the Move
102 Markus Åström Mirage
Ilari Laamanen Slow and Steady (and Flexible) Wins the Race
Sam Watson ‘(An Experience of) Nature in Helsinki’
Johanna Vakkari Three years of MOBIUS Fellowship between Finland, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland
16 Manual 24
Martti Kalliala Ultimate Exit / Exitscape
Andrea Lipps The Magic of MOBIUS
Mike Egan Iiu Susiraja: What Am I?
Leena-Maija Rossi MOBIUS: A Transforming Twist
Jenni Nurmenniemi Deep Time Séance
Paavo Järvensivu in discussion with Ilari Laamanen Creating Tools for Building Post-Fossil Fuel Society
Susanna Pettersson Clouds of Competencies: Mobius Programme Building Bridges for the Future
Stefan Kalmár Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play
Virve Miettinen On the Beach of Learning
Boshko Boskovic Interpreting the Frame
Boshko Boskovic in discussion with Jenni Nurmenniemi Learning by Retreating—Two Curators on an Exchange
120 MOBIUS New York Fellows 124
MOBIUS London Fellows
MOBIUS Partner Organizations
Ideas on the Move
4 years, 40 creative minds, over 40 partner organizations have made MOBIUS what it is today: a unique program that creates waves far deeper and longer than the measures of its counterparts. Instead of numbers, the MOBIUS Fellowship Program —a collaboration between The Finnish Institute in London and The Finnish Cultural Institute in New York—focuses on cross-pollination of cultural influences. The two institutes acting as mediators, the impact of the program is instigated by the individuals and institutions who open their professional practices and organizational structures to sharing, learning and reflecting. The ripple effect of the program spans over continents through innumerable encounters between the participants and their peers. As we are approaching our fifth year of moving minds, knowledge, ideas and expertise through MOBIUS, we look forward to finding new people and partners to work with, and simultaneously celebrate the ongoing harvest of the program so far. At the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, we’ve just welcomed curator Aily Nash, specializing in moving image, back from her MOBIUS fellowship at the Kiasma Museum in Helsinki. Having discovered artist Jaakko Pallasvuo and included his work into the program of the New York Film Festival, she is also planning a public program for 2018. New York based gallerist Mike Egan, also through MOBIUS, has formed a lasting professional relationship with artist Iiu Susiraja as he presented her first NYC solo show at the Ramiken Crucible last year, with more to follow. The Finnish Institute in London is sending two curators to Finland this year. Irini Papadimitriou, who works at the forefront of digital culture at the V&A and Watermans Arts Centre in London, is soon leaving to co-curate the 2018 exhibition programme for the Artists’ Association MUU in Helsinki. In London, New York and Helsinki—we are determined to keep MOBIUS on the move by trusting in our chosen recipe of six c-words: Current, Customized, Curatorial, Collaborative, Cross-Sectional and Concept Driven. JOIN US! Kaarina Gould Executive Director Finnish Cultural Institute in New York Pauliina Ståhlberg Director Finnish Institute in London
MOBIUS Fellow and Curator of the Design Museum Helsinki, Suvi Saloniemi hosted a salon discussion about Design Art at the Woodnotes + Nikari Temporary Showroom in Helsinki in September 2016. The event was a part of the MOBIUS Partnership between Design Museum Helsinki and Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, New York. Photo: Eetu Ahanen.
Mike Egan gave a lecture for a full house at the Frame Contemporary Art Finland as part of his MOBIUS Fellowship at Sinne, Helsinki in October 2016. Mike Egan is an artist, writer and the managing member of Ramiken Crucible Gallery in New York. Photo: Laura Boxberg.
Ilari Laamanen Slow and Steady (and Flexible) Wins the Race
It’s true that I have very little idea what I shall be writing next, but at the same time I have a powerful premonition of everything that lies ahead of me, even ten years ahead. – J.G. Ballard
This publication brings together articles written by the organizers and participants of MOBIUS—a Fellowship Program initiated by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Finnish Institute in London in 2013—and presents selected projects that have been realized as part of the Program. Alongside reflecting on the Program’s pilot phase (2014– 2016), MOBIUS Manual looks towards the future, too. Like a living organism, a hybrid in nature, MOBIUS Fellowship Program operates between individuals, organizations and disciplines, and aims to bring them together in meaningful ways. Instead of strictly predetermined working periods and end results, each MOBIUS Fellowship is customized to meet the interests and needs of both the participating fellow and their partnering organization. MOBIUS Fellowship Program stretches temporality and aims to provide enough time for its participants. Time is becoming a scarce resource in a culture where all things imaginable are measured, calculated and formulated. Following the logic of the artist, designer, or curator, and the way creative processes function in general, one needs enough time to come up with something relevant and new. Thus, instead of volume and spectacle, MOBIUS focuses on slow, open-ended processes. At the core of each fellowship is a thematic project that will be realized in collaboration with the fellow and their partnering organization. As the organizers of the program we instigate and support these processes and partnerships—but choose not to control them. When visualizing the word mobius, the image of an infinity loop first comes to mind. Channeling the ethos of the program, we decided to call it MOBIUS to communicate the idea of a movement that is slow and steady, and long-lasting as well. The underlying agenda of the program is to create bonds and build partnerships that will continue long after the fellowship collaboration has ended. MOBIUS stresses the importance of working together across geographical and ideological frameworks. Current cultural climate cries for openness and curiosity, not another fixed, conservative structure. Working together requires flexibility and willingness to remain open for surprising, and perhaps unorthodox, influences. Like the late science fiction writer J.G. Ballard described his creative process (quoted on the left): one should let go of the handle of control and go with the flow instead. One should also be patient, tolerate instability and remain open to sharing—both ideas and resources. Through MOBIUS Fellowship Program I have seen how freelance curators, museum professionals, and partners at nonprofit organizations and established institutions alike have welcomed this unselfish and positively unpredictable mode of collaboration with open arms.
Alongside supporting organizational collaboration through updating and exchanging professional knowledge, MOBIUS has invested in cross-sectional collaborations as well. In practice this means bringing together selected independent visual arts professionals and organizations. MOBIUS provides freelancers an invaluable opportunity to work in close collaboration with an organization that supports their practice; simultaneously, the organization benefits from the fresh perspective of the newcomer. The MOBIUS Fellowship Program relies on the idea of customized fellowships: not a single fellowship is predetermined or fixed in terms of duration, working methods or project outcome. However, it is highly important to make sure all the parties involved are on the same page about the expectations of the partnership before the process starts. When a fellowship collaboration is initiated, the fellow, partnering organization and the organizers of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program discuss and determine the parameters of the collaboration together. It is important to invest enough time in the planning to avoid potential misunderstandings. As the MOBIUS Fellowship model is very flexible, it is crucial that all the parties involved also remain in close and constant dialogue with one another. Open discussions and sharing of ideas about the joint project realized by the fellow and the organization are at the core of each collaboration. Furthermore, the aim is to engage the fellows and their partners on a deeper level, including discussions about the organizationâ€™s agenda, current state and possible future scenarios. While the focus of each partnership is the thematic project, the collaboration also includes sharing of professional knowledge and informal peer-to-peer moments. Working in the context of visual arts means working with both stable and unstable currencies. The more fixed structures apply to large-scale cultural institutions that are guided by the conventions and histories these institutions carry with them. The smaller the organization, the more flexible it typically is. One of the intriguing challenges of MOBIUS is to operate in the grey area between emerging and establishedâ€” or independent and institutional. The two Institutes running the MOBIUS Fellowship Program act as mediators between all the parties involved and do their best to inspire them to work together around a shared thematic interest. HYBRID METHODOLOGY
Borrowing an example from nature, hybrid is best described as an offspring resulting from crossbreeding. In the case of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program, the act of hybridization
takes place on multiple levels. The key idea is to bring together people and organizations that are willing to discover novel ways of thinking, working, and sharing ideas and resources. Firstly, the idea of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program is the result of a dialogue between two nonprofit organizations—the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Finnish Institute in London—working at the intersection of cultural disciplines. While FCINY focuses on contemporary art, design and architecture, the Finnish Institute in London runs cultural and societal programs. MOBIUS was launched with two slightly different profiles in early 2014: FCINY’s focus was on curating and on new organizational models, while the Finnish Institute in London chose to focus on catering for museum and archive professionals. During the three-year pilot phase the two profiles have come closer together—currently the shared focus is on curators and project-driven collaborations. Secondly, the cross-pollination of cultural influences is at the core of MOBIUS. While geographical location does not tie individuals down as much as it used to because of developments in technology, it is still worthwhile noticing how much a change in one’s location can actually affect one’s professional practice. Many matters in the world might seem more shared than ever before but simultaneously the importance of being physically present is heightened. In order to be affected by an unfamiliar culture, one needs to do proper background research, but more importantly spend enough time as part of the culture to start to get a sense of its characteristics. During the process, meaningful collaboration starts to emerge. Thirdly, the will to collaborate requires a decent amount of trust and also willingness to remain open to change. In terms of a fellowship, trust involves all the parties included: the fellows, hosting organizations, sending organizations, funders, and the managers of the program. To open the doors to a temporary collaborator involves risks. How will the ‘outsider’ perceive us? How much are they willing to contribute and share their knowledge and other resources? How well might we get along—if at all? The decision to let someone in requires patience and willingness to engage in a long-lasting process. But it also holds in itself potential for something unforeseen and new. That is something that all institutions, no matter how established or successful, need. The desire to re-formulate and change is what keeps our cultures alive. INSIDE AND OUTSIDE THE INSTITUTIONS
The burning question of today is how cultural organizations formulate their programming to match the turmoil outside the walls of these constructions, both online and in real life.
MOBIUS UNDERSCORES THE IMPORTANCE OF SLOW, IN-DEPTH PROCESSES.
Learn more about the methodology of MOBIUS, starting from p. 16
WHY DOES EVERYONE IN ST THE 21 CENTURY WANT TO ESCAPE?
Read about Martti Kalliala’s MOBIUS project on p. 24
The Internet and the word-on-the-street are fast; institutional framework and forms of operation are typically slow. Yet the more traditional constructions of cultural heritage represent some quintessential qualities, such as consistency and cultivation of values, aesthetics and craftsmanship. These qualities should not be overlooked in favor of the seemingly new. The current cultural climate of the visual arts field is obstructivesticky. There is a growing pressure to quantify one’s actions and to prove that all actions have tangible results. While these developments resonate with the broader cultural climate, it should not be taken for granted that any given action should have a numeral equivalent. In fact, actions that defy categorization and make people think should be more welcomed—and supported—than ever. In the worst-case scenario, visual arts organizations start to practice premature self-censorship and put too much emphasis on data gathering to prove how impactful their actions are in the eyes of potential supporters. But when diving deep into this process one might lose sight of something more valuable: progressive and relevant art and design practices. It is worthwhile remembering that cultural institutions would not function or exist without the work that is produced outside the institutions. Thus, it is elemental to find ways to continue to support the work of designers, artists, thinkers, philosophers, and performers. While the focus of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program is on the mediators— curators, producers, educators, conservators and the like— their work is always connected as much to these aforementioned makers and creators of our contemporary culture, as it is to the institutions that share their vision with audiences. In many ways, the MOBIUS Fellowship Program functions as an integral part of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Finnish Institute in London. More than organizers and facilitators, the two organizations act as mediators that bring together individuals, institutions, and ideas. MOBIUS started as a pilot project, but has developed into a flexible model that we are happy to share with peers and supporters alike. Small-scale cultural organizations like the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Finnish Institute in London are able to question and rethink their modes of operation and implement new ones when needed. Ability to function on a varied timespan is a necessity for any contemporary organization: one needs to remain grounded enough to provide stability for partnerships and productions, but at the same time it is imperative to remain alert on the most recent developments in culture. Cultural institutions should not remain static but continuously be updating their functions as the world around them is in constant flux as well.
Ilari Laamanen works as the Project Manager at the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. He has been planning and managing the MOBIUS Fellowship Program’s New York chapter since its initiation in 2013.
MANUAL MOBIUS is a Fellowship Program for visual arts professionals based in the United States, the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland and Finland. The program enables transatlantic mobility and collaborative practices and supports longlasting professional relationships through international working periods and thematic projects. MOBIUS is organized by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York (FCINY) and the Finnish Institute in London. The organizers of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program—the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York and the Finnish Institute in London—identify and instigate partnerships between independent or institutional visual arts professionals and matching organizations in the United States, the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland and Finland. Each partnership differs from one another, as the nature of the program is highly customized. Instead of volume and numbers, MOBIUS focuses fully on the thematic and artistic content of each collaboration. MOBIUS does not offer residencies, but provides international working periods in a highly professional context. Each working period is centered on a joint project realized by the fellow and partnering organization. The program opens doors to new kind of collaboration and partnership possibilities. It allows stretched temporality: some of the working periods last couple of months, while others are split into several, shorter parts. Sometimes the projects manifest during the first year of the collaboration, while at times it takes longer for the project to find its final, and most fitting, format and context. MOBIUS Fellowship Program’s agenda is to enable and support progressive visual arts practices and to create space for critical self-reflection and meaningful dialogue. It also encourages its participants and partner organizations to step outside their comfort zones and to truly develop their professional practices in unseen ways. All the MOBIUS Fellowships are built around six key ideas that are featured on the following pages of the manual.
Contrary to the popular belief that the word ‘current’ should translate merely as fast, short-spanned and reactionary, MOBIUS Fellowship Program underscores the importance of slow, in-depth processes. MOBIUS focuses simultaneously on the topical and the upcoming, and aims to identify issues relevant in the context of visual arts. This does not exclude the possibility of engaging with the established or the archival— however, the point of view needs to be novel. When working with the yet to be defined, one should also accept the possibility of failing. MOBIUS is as flexible a model as possible: what works today, might not make sense next year.
Each MOBIUS partnership is based on discussions between all the involved parties: a) Organizer (FCINY or the Finnish Institute in London) b) Fellow (Independent or working for an organization) c) Partner Organization (In another country than where the fellow is based) d) Sending Organization (If fellow is working within an institution) MOBIUS fellow can be an independent professional or an individual working within an institution. MOBIUS partner organization can be an institution, such as a museum or an archive, or a lighter structure, such as think tank or an artist-run initiative. Focus of the fellowship will be determined through open discussions and the agreed thematic thread will carry through the whole duration of the collaboration. MOBIUS fellowship periods can be split into several parts, including independent and online work between the actual working periods at the partnering organization in another country.
MOBIUS focuses on the mediators of visual art. Most often these people identify themselves as curators, educators, researchers and producers. In this context, â€˜curatorialâ€™ means specific interest in pursuing a project with select thematic interest. Each fellow is given a possibility to work together with an international partner organization to produce a joint project, which can be an exhibition, commissioned artwork, publication, a series of public events, or something else. Fellows and partner organizations are encouraged to create projects they would not be able to realize without the support of MOBIUS.
A MOBIUS Fellowship is always a joint effort. Based on ideas of collaboration, community and mutual understanding, the program aims on bringing people, organizations and ideas together to instigate something new and unseen. Collaboration is always based on openness and trust. Clear and constant communication is at the core of any functional partnership. Participants of the MOBIUS Program are selected a) via invitation, b) through open call.
The MOBIUS Program believes in peer-to-peer learning, meaningful networking and sharing of knowledge. One of the main agendas is to develop modes of operation in the fields of visual arts: in organizations ranging from up-and-coming to prominent, from independent to institutional. MOBIUS also supports independent professionals and does its best to pair them with the most fitting organizations. The field of visual arts can sometimes seem insular with its roles fixed: MOBIUS opens up possibilities for cross-sectional partnerships. The program also encourages interdisciplinary collaboration across areas of art, design and science.
The MOBIUS Fellowship Program is fueled by fresh ideas, experimentation and curiosity. While the context is professional, the selection of participants and partners is not based solely on their resumes or list of references. Each Fellowship is built around a specific thematic interest shared by the fellow and partnering organization. While every project is a public manifestation and meant to shared, the contents can and should be complex and challengingâ€”in order to produce new experiences and knowledge.
Ultimate Exit / Exitscape
Initiatives such as Seasteading and Six Californias, proclamations like Google’s desire to “set aside” a piece of the world as an unregulated test site for technological innovation and venture capitalist Balaji Srinivasan’s talk-gone-viral on Silicon Valley’s “ultimate exit”, not to mention the rising influence of certain strands of the Dark Enlightenment—so-called neoreactionary thinking incubated online—have set the stage for a polymorphous secessionist imaginary. Ultimate Exit was an investigation into what one might call tech-secessionism; the spectrum of narratives and impulses to imagine new outsides to and escapes from our otherwise “overregulated” world into city-state -like pockets of uninhibited technological progress. Ultimate Exit, a symposium curated and moderated by Martti Kalliala, invited artist ANDREA CRESPO; ED KELLER, associate dean of distributed learning and technology at Parsons the New School for Design; philosopher, theorist NICK LAND; and futurist and writer GEOFF MANAUGH to reflect on questions such as: What kind of sovereign urbanities are being imagined? How are these ideological commitments manifested in potential urban forms? Through what kind of languages and esthetics do they present and reproduce themselves? Why does everyone in the 21st century want to escape? The 6 part video installation Exitscape is produced by Martti Kalliala and DANIEL KELLER, in collaboration with a team of animators working in the video game engine CryEngine. Using a variety of sourced and original material, the videos join together to form a continuously looping aerial view of a speculative ‘patchwork’ landscape. The landscape renderings depict a neo-feudal society of competing experimental city-states, forced to compete at land and at sea. Exitscape follows an idea popularized in Neil Stephenson’s Diamond Age and elaborated on in neoreactionary blogger Mencius Moldbug’s Patchwork: a positive vision, Zach Weinersmith’s Polystate and Patri Friedman’s Seasteading Institute. The formation of this scenario is informed heavily by the idea of ‘dynamic geography’, and states along with other political entities which possess a fluid spatial relationship, either mobilized by water or designed with modular mobility in mind.
Architect Martti Kalliala’s MOBIUS Fellowship was centered on the phenomenon of tech-secessionism. Partnering with the New York-based not-for-profit Van Alen Institute, Kalliala organized Ultimate Exit symposium, featuring presentations by Andrea Crespo, Ed Keller, Geoff Manaugh and Nick Land. Alongside the event, Kalliala joined forces with artist Daniel Keller to create a body of audiovisual work titled Exitscape. Kalliala participated in the MOBIUS Fellowship Program in the fall 2014.
Daniel Keller & Martti Kalliala, Exitscape, video stills, 2015
3D Visualization: Marc Kokopeli, City Generation: Grete Soosalu. An edition of this work has been acquired by the Hammer Museum Contemporary Art Collection and the Julia Stoscheck Collection.
Daniel Keller & Martti Kalliala, Exitscape, video stills, 2015
Daniel Keller & Martti Kalliala, Exitscape, video stills, 2015
Finland has always enchanted me. It is a land that introduced Alvar Aalto’s sweeping bentwood forms to the world, as well as Snufkin and Little My, colorful and quirky characters from the Moomin stories. I grew up using Fiskars orange-handled scissors, comfortable even in my small hands. Our family’s dotted glass bowls, cast in the colors of a stormy sky, were Oiva Toikka’s design for Iittala. I associated Finland with birch trees thanks to Marimekko’s patterned textiles. What I knew about Finland I knew from its design. In late spring 2015, I discovered much more about Finland and its design as a MOBIUS Fellow, generously funded by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York. My fellowship was the second in a pair of MOBIUS exchanges between Helsinki’s Design Museum and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York, where I am an Assistant Curatorof Contemporary Design. In winter 2014, the MOBIUS Program brought Suvi Saloniemi, the Design Museum’s Chief Curator, to New York. Cooper Hewitt served as Suvi’s host and home base. For my fellowship, the Design Museum in Helsinki was my host and home base.
At the time, I was organizing the exhibition Beauty— Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial (the show, co-curated with Ellen Lupton, opened in New York in February 2016). Suvi served as a curatorial advisor and provided instrumental contributions to the Beauty catalogue. Although the aim was for the exhibition to travel to the Design Museum in Helsinki, funding challenges prevented it from happening. Nonetheless, what resulted from our MOBIUS exchanges was not only invaluable peer-topeer learning and knowledge sharing, but much deeper networks and knowledge of our host design communities. My workstation at the Design Museum provided a unique opportunity to share best practices and discuss our respective institutions, collections, and exhibitions. Jukka Savolainen, the museum’s Director, was a generous host. On one occasion, we rode together to the opening of the We Love Woods exhibition at Onoma in Fiskars Village. Along the way, we discussed the international contemporary design landscape and our respective institutions. What trends did we see? How do our institutions collect and preserve digital objects? What makes for a critical curatorial practice? Our conversations were wide-ranging and illuminating. With the museum’s Head of Sponsorship, I shared insights into how museums in the U.S. are funded and structured, which we contrasted to the landscape of Finnish institutions. The Education Curator and I visited the Friends of Finnish Handicraft and often talked about programming, ideas, and approaches at our respective museums. Suvi and I, along with Katarina Siltavuori, then the museum’s newly-hired Assistant Curator, took a memorable day-long excursion to Nuutajärvi and the Iittala glass factories and museums. Katarina drove. As we left the city, I was struck by the intensity of the colors in the landscape: the sky a profound blue; the deep dark green of the trees; the mustard yellow and purple dots of wildflowers. Along the drive, we discussed our institutions’ collections, their storage and care, our processes and approaches. How do our collections committees function? How are acquisitions funded? What is our institution’s collecting strategy? Who oversees collections display? How are collections researchers accommodated? These are the meaningful conversations that so often occur during informal moments, not under the gaze of an audience or the threat of a clock. These are the moments when relationships are cultivated and true knowledge is shared. In today’s briskly paced, digital world, face-to-face meetings with international colleagues and time for free-flowing conversation are rare and precious. This is just part of the MOBIUS Fellowship’s magic. The other part of its magic emerges from the insights gained from an intensive period of study. Part of being
a contemporary design curator means situating the impressions and discoveries amassed from travels, readings, studio visits, conversations, and more within a broader design history and global design trajectory. I lived in Helsinki for a month, drank a lot of coffee (what is it about the Finns and coffee?), and shared time between my gracious host, the Design Museum, and the countless designer studios, labs, and manufacturers I visited (over 60 meetings and events). Jukka, Suvi and Katarina provided introductions and suggestions, guidance and invitations that gave me unique access and insight into the Finnish design landscape. All of the designers I met were generous with their ideas, time, and insights, which enabled me to synthesize information about contemporary Finnish practice with broader international trends. Before I spent time in Finland as a MOBIUS Fellow, my childhood impressions about the country were cemented during my graduate studies in design history. Finland has a strong product design heritage rooted in the twentieth century. The designer, a creative visionary, made good design in the service of all. This democratized design serviced Finland’s industry, boosting the country’s economy and its national identity. It was design that venerated material, pushing glass to new and expressive forms and bending wood into compliant shapes. It was design that brought aesthetic pleasure and functionality to the masses, elevating the everyday. But design has grown into a much more encompassing activity since the turn of the millennium. Once the realm of objects and artifacts, design now includes systems and services, food and biology. User interaction and experience
are emphasized over physical objects. Dramatic changes in the contemporary design landscape—environmental concerns, digital fabrication, mass accessibility, expanded functionality, antidisciplinary practice, and more—have broadened the discourse. How do these complexities translate within Finnish design today? How can Finnish design today be contextualized within the international design landscape? Is there a continuum of practice that is identifiably Finnish? These questions further propelled my fellowship period in Helsinki. I sought to learn more about contemporary Finnish design practice and to synthesize that knowledge within a broader international discourse. FOR USERS, WITH LOVE
The legacy of Finnish design certainly helps it in meeting today’s challenges. Utility, economy of means, and a clarified design language still resonate with value. But where design once venerated the material, today it venerates the user. Designers are putting users first, anticipating needs and adapting function not only to meet use, but to expand our relationship with an object. Objects communicate with us. Objects bring us joy. Objects tell stories. Perhaps with the ever-present winters everyone referenced during my visit, a bit of levity remains central to the character of Finnish design. It is a light, thoughtful, and playful touch, evident in the work of Aamu Song and Johan Olin’s firm, Company, and in Elina and Klaus Aalto’s practice, Aalto+Aalto. For Company’s Secrets series, the firm identifies local, often obscure factories and works closely with them to craft charming objects punctuated with wit. The Sea Matryoshka doll depicts a food chain: a whale ingests a sea lion ingests a penguin ingests a fish, and so on. The Head Bag casts the rosy-cheeked visage of a traditional matryoshka on a handbag. Their iconic Dance Shoes endearingly suggest a child dancing on their parent’s feet. More than objects of utility—for play or transport or protection—these are objects that embody narrative and provoke emotional response. Similarly, Aalto+Aalto’s ceramic hanging light, made in collaboration with Tero Kuitunen, is a flirty update to the traditional tassel lamp. Their Stereo table is a clever solution for small spaces. The table, whose top is printed with an image, becomes wall art when its legs are folded and it is hung for storage. Take Out is a storage cabinet that, in place of drawers, uses suitcases. Function exists in our experience of such objects. In addition, they surprise us. They make us smile. Over the past two decades, we’ve seen a radical shift toward design as a fundamental source of value for business. Design thinking drives the start-up economy and bubbles up in boardrooms. The growing field of service
design emphasizes user experience while embodying the clarity and function characterized by Finnish design. I met with Juha Kronqvist, a Senior Service Designer at Diagonal. Their work at the Fimlab Laboratoriot, for instance, dramatically improved the patient’s, and in turn the personnel’s, experience. Calming images were installed on ceilings above examination tables and on walls opposite to blood drawing stations, creating patient-centric spaces that don’t interfere with the lab’s services. Simple, seemingly intuitive ideas emerged from studying patterns and behaviors. Design thinking may even streamline government, a field epitomized by its unuser-friendliness. (If there is any country in which governmental design could effectively take root, it is Finland.) In May 2015, I attended the Design for Government final show. Initiated by Seungho Lee, Hella Hernberg, and Kronqvist, and offered under the Aalto Creative Sustainability master’s program, the course engaged design thinking to tackle real briefs from the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. Student groups devised and presented implementable solutions. One proposal empowered decision-makers and funders by connecting disparate sources of research, development, and innovation projects. The aggregated information was presented in searchable data visualizations. Another solution recommended a digital tool for farmers to input data, which would service myriad agency notification systems at once. Moreover, the site would return real data to the farmer about their farm, generating mutual value for both the farmer and agencies. ATOMS VIA BITS
Today, highly specialized value chains for manufacturing goods often constrict agility. Changes and errors can be profoundly expensive in the massive industrial complex. Inventory requires space, and distribution relies on infrastructure and diesel. Digital fabrication, print-ondemand, and even programmable matter offer modes of accessible design for the future. These are disruptive technologies that would displace the need for inventory and global transport, enabling scale without mass. Digital fabrication and technologies also impact form-making. I visited architecture and design firm Ateljé Sotamaa, run by siblings Kivi and Tuuli Sotamaa. They shared projects that use digital technologies in their design and manufacture to extend our ideas about form and materiality. 3D-printed lighting shades are sculptural, evocative forms that cast distinct shadows onto a wall. A concept for the renovation of a Soviet era post office recalls the logic of a virus, twisting and mutating around the existing structure to generate new forms for use.
Workshops and laboratories are expanding access to digital technologies. FabLab is a workshop dedicated to digital fabrication open to anyone and located on Aalto University’s Arabia campus. The ADD Lab, Aalto University’s Digital Design Laboratory located in the Media Lab at the Espoo campus, is a space for students and researchers across disciplines to explore, collaborate, experiment, and create, using digital design and manufacturing technologies. While there, I met Katrin Olina, an Icelandic illustrator and graphic artist whose practice integrates the hand-drawn with new technologies. Olina was the ADD Lab’s first artist-in-residence. She used the 3D modeling software Maya to design a jewelry series of celestial forms that were built by 3D printers. The series advances the otherworldly narrative in Olina’s work and shows the unique trajectories of digital technologies. EXPANSIVE FUNCTION
Digital tools enable experimentation and conceptual work like Olina’s and Ateljé Sotamaa’s. Over the past few decades, the notion of function has expanded beyond a pragmatic concern for utility. Conceptual and critical design, as advanced by universities such as the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands and the Royal College of Arts in the UK and often supported through state-run grants, galleries, and collectors, have provoked ideas about what design is and can be. Ilkka Suppanen’s work for Maria Wettergren Galerie advances his material and technical experimentations in glass, felt, and 3D printing. His Porcupine hanging light, which has taken a decade to develop, is a large 3D-printed shell that holds copper rods to create a bristled texture. I had a Skype call with Finnish writer and designer Jenna Sutela and architect Martti Kalliala, who were based in Berlin. Their theoretical practices in design and architecture explore body boundaries and emerging spatial trends within today’s techno-centric environment. Finnish designer Tuomas Markunpoika, based in Amsterdam, explores metaphysics in the design of objects. His Engineering Temporality series is less about the object’s utility than about its evocation of memory and impermanence. Design can speculate rather than just problem-solve. It can tease out implications rather than just find applications. Provocation can lead to dialogue as well as propel innovation. Design speaks to citizens, not just consumers. SUSTAINABLE CULTURE AND THE FINNISH CONTINUUM
The industrial revolution may have democratized consumption, but the digital revolution is democratizing access. Nodes to reach consumers have exploded, particularly now that we carry the Internet in our pockets.
As consumers, we are savvy and intentional about the physical things we bring into our lives. As citizens, we are more connected than at any other point in history. Physical borders and boundaries are meaningless in the digital era. While the physicality that separates us recedes, the primacy of our relationship to the planet intensifies. Global concerns about the state of our planet drive meaningful change. Disposability and waste threaten the Earth’s well-being. We simply don’t have the space or the resources to accommodate excessive consumerism. Designers today are very conscious about not adding more “stuff ” to the world. Whereas modernism prioritized form and function, largely in the context of mass production, contemporary design emphasizes other values—beauty, concept, narrative, heritage—to enhance our relationship to an object and encourage its continued place in our lives. Objects by Katriina Nuutinen, for instance, defy obsolescence by beautifully balancing proportion, color, and details. A hanging lamp is like jewelry for the home. A glass box becomes a keepsake itself, capped by perfectly proportioned wood set with a hand-shaped glass bead. These are objects to be treasured. Suppanen alluded to sustainable culture when we met. He showed me concept sketches for a smartphone accessory that forged a timeless design and function together, deterring disposal once technology changes. In the case of another luxury item he had designed, Suppanen had been troubled by its inaccessible price point. But comparing what the same amount of money would purchase from, say, IKEA—a few cabinets and couches—it became clear that the luxury item was more sustainable. It will be kept and cherished. It becomes an heirloom. Suppanen is among today’s most internationally recognized Finnish designers. I asked almost everyone I met their thoughts on Finnish design culture. Many said they view Finland’s design heritage as a challenge. It is difficult to shake the shadow of the designer-hero. Suppanen conceded a bit, but he also acknowledged that conditions have changed. Rather than servicing national agendas, as design did in the twentieth century, design today services humanist agendas, focused on people, community, and Earth. Design speaks to users and the public, communicating our values. The idea of sustainable culture—for both people and planet—resonates throughout Suppanen’s work and through much of Finnish design. If there is a continuum of Finnish design practice, it is one that embodies honesty and efficiency across design disciplines. Yet it is a continuum that exists in a changing context. Ideas of efficiency, and certainly of function, are evolving. Today’s design discourse is nuanced, complex, and constantly shifting. Whereas Finnish design in the twentieth
century was tied largely to manufacturing, today many design practices are individuated. Designers are producers, overseeing production of their work. Designers are distributors, selling directly to consumers. Even more disruptive, many practices today defy a discipline-specific approach, contributing to the antidisciplinary nature of contemporary design. Design is also more conceptual, helping us translate the complexities of our time. Today’s most compelling practices, in Finland and elsewhere, remain those that not only show design’s potential for innovation and speculation, but also broaden dialogues to propel new narratives of consumption and citizenry. Such in-depth study and insights can only occur through a fellowship such as the MOBIUS. In just one short month, I took a deep dive into contemporary Finnish design. When I came up for air, I was profoundly more knowledgeable and ready to contextualize contemporary Finnish practices within the broader international discourse. We included Finnish designers in Beauty, an exhibition that celebrated some of the most compelling contemporary design practices from around the globe. I organized and moderated a panel discussion, funded by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, which brought two of those Finnish designers, Tuomas Markunpoika and Kustaa Saksi, to New York for a conversation about Finnish design today. And at the museum, we continue talks to explore acquisition of a number of Finnish designers’ work into our permanent collection, recognizing their importance and contribution to the international canon of design. My fellowship period deepened my professional networks, but more than that, it expanded my perspective and curatorial practice. I am even more sensitive to the nuances and subtlety of place when considering a designer’s practice. I continue to be more reflective about how design practices are situated within national design agendas, both historically and today. Finnish design was exporting its culture and perspective even to my young self. And it continues to do so today. This nuance, this deepening, this perception is the magic of MOBIUS.
Andrea Lipps, Assistant Curator of Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York, participated in the MOBIUS Fellowship Program in Spring 2015 as Design Museum Helsinki’s Fellow. As part of a reciprocal partnership between the two institutions, Design Museum Helsinki’s Curator Suvi Saloniemi stayed in New York for two months as the Cooper Hewitt’s MOBIUS Fellow during the fall 2014.
THESE ARE THE MOMENTS WHEN RELATIONSHIPS ARE CULTIVATED AND TRUE KNOWLEDGE IS SHARED.
Iiu Susiraja: What Am I?
To enter Iiu Susiraja’s (b. 1975, Finland) ruthlessly deadpan universe, it helps to examine her home turf; this is how I connected to her work. Midcentury liberalization in Finland led to a booming full employment economy through the mid-1980s. Economic stagnation, a social texture familiar in the nearby Soviet Bloc, hit Finland hard in the late 1980’s. The 1990s were tough: a debt crisis was followed by austerity measures, which gutted social programs. High unemployment in the cities led to an increase in the number of people without anywhere to live. Out of this time in Finland came some of the greatest, funniest, most humane films, by a director named Aki Kaurismäki. My favorite is The Man Without A Past (2002). Kaurismäki’s films focus on the working class, and the problems regular people have in life. His gift is the presentation of absolute deadpan, an emotionless candor that radiates hope and life. His characters are beautiful to watch, because their deadpan delivery doesn’t define their personality, but rather opens a door into a vulnerable soul, someone who has been defeated by the endless turmoil of interpretation, and is confused about what to feel. His characters surrender to what happens next, while trying to do the best they can, with their only tools being a set of basic human values. This kind of person creates space: the space in which life can happen. When I experience Iiu Susiraja’s work, I sense a variation of this very special honesty. Here, in her work, through her strange gaze, Susiraja is the most subtle and skilled of technicians, as she tests the observational limits of the audience, playing with our awareness. Her photographs and videos are shot in single takes at her parents’ house in Turku. There isn’t a false note. Her confident, comfortable ease suggests our own obsolescence. She’s quietly watching. She’s resting. She’s doing nothing. Her photography doesn’t offer any explanations. In Lucia (2010), she sits with a giant teddy bear and an electric candle taped to her forehead. In Luuta (2010), she has a broom, but she’s not sweeping. What is she doing? Susiraja’s self-portraits produce a hilarious complexity that cannot be reduced to a style of appearance, or a superlative attitude. Her work has no subject. She’s not acting. She asks herself, “What am I?” (Text by Mike Egan)
Mike Egan of Ramiken Crucible, New York was a MOBIUS Fellow at Sinne, Helsinki in October 2016. During the Fellowship period in Helsinki, Egan familiarized himself with the local contemporary art scene through studio and gallery visits and furthermore hosted public events at the Frame Contemporary Art Finland and SIC Helsinki. Egan’s MOBIUS project, Iiu Susiraja’s solo exhibition was on view at Ramiken Crucible gallery in New York City, from November 13 to December 18, 2016.
Iiu Susiraja, Olen valmis 1, 2016, 0:51 min. Photo: Dario Lasagni.
Iiu Susiraja, Toimiva kommunikaatio, 2016. Chromogenic print, 15,5 x 22 inches framed. Photo: Dario Lasagni.
Iiu Susiraja, What Am I?, installation view at Ramiken Crucible, New York. November 13â€“December 18, 2016. Photo: Dario Lasagni.
Iiu Susiraja, Luuta, 2010. Chromogenic print, 12,5 x 16 inches framed. Photo: Dario Lasagni.
Iiu Susiraja, Ketsuppi, 2016. Video, 0â€™54 min. Photo: Dario Lasagni.
CURRENT CULTURAL CLIMATE CRIES FOR OPENNESS AND CURIOSITY.
Read more about Ilari Laamanenâ€™s take on collaborative practices starting from p. 10
Leena-Maija Rossi MOBIUS: A Transforming Twist
The Mobius strip is a mathematical equation and a representation that is also used symbolically, referring to infinity, transformation, and never-ending possibilities. It has been chosen as a universal symbol for recycling as well. Discovered by German mathematician and astronomer August Ferdinand Mobius in 1858, it is a continuous loop with one surface. The fellowship program MOBIUS, launched in 2014 and named after the famous symbol, was created to provide professionals working in the multiple fields of visual arts, museums and archives a chance to give a transforming twist to their careers. It is a well-known fact that practitioners, especially in the field of contemporary art, move about and around the globe, even hectically. The current structure of the hegemonic art world, dictated largely by the art markets both in the West and the East, is based on a global network of short-term events. Spearheaded by biennials, which proliferated in the 1990s and have been followed by the collector-driven and highly influential phenomenon of art fairs, the structured mobility of the art world seems to be here to stay. This form of mobility has also functioned as the basis of knowledge-production in and of the field, the fairs and biennials forming an “archive” of sellable and presentable art as well as ranking lists of trends, artists and other agents, such as curators, to be followed—and even aiming to define what is meaningful in terms of content. The groundbreaking idea of the MOBIUS program was to set art and museum professionals on the move in a radically different way compared to the spot-like, short-term hops from one biennial or art fair to another—or even compared to museum visits as a tourist-professional and brief expert visits organized for curators. The ambitious aim was also to make a difference in terms of knowledge production and in the understanding of the structural ramifications of museal, archival and curatorial practices. The program is based on the idea of one to two months long fellowships and professional exchange. Due to work life realities of the participating professionals and institutions (not to mention different conceptions and lived realities of time in the US and Europe), some of the fellowships are shorter and some take place in two periods. In addition to facilitating the experience of changing localities and spatialities, time and the ability to immerse oneself in the surrounding practices have been crucial in MOBIUS. As the two Institutes launching the program have very different profiles and ways of functioning—the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York being exclusively focused on the fields of contemporary art, design and architecture, and the Finnish Institute in London running programs both in societal issues and arts and culture—the MOBIUS streams have also differed from each other. Whereas the London
Institute has found its partners in museums and archives across the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, the FCINY has partnered with many kinds of institutions, from grassroots and artist-run organizations to large-scale museums and university schools or galleries, mainly in New York City. All in all, by the end of its third year MOBIUS had attracted altogether 40 partners, and 36 fellows had participated in the program. In New York, where the editor of this publication, Ilari Laamanen and I worked on our stream of the MOBIUS program, it was our intention, from the very beginning, to find both individual participants and institutions, which would be highly content-driven, so that the aspect of learning and co-producing knowledge on the multiple and often overlapping fields of visual arts would stay in the focus of the program. This is why we emphasized the project-based nature of the fellowships; each applicant had to formulate a project plan with an outcome—be it an exhibition or a performance, a publication, a seminar or a roundtable discussion—to be realized with their host institutions. Not only were the fellows to learn from the institutions themselves by participating in their operations, they were also required to commit themselves to the production, no matter how conceptual and potentially ephemeral. From the outset we also wanted the MOBIUS program to be a two-way street and thus offer a route for real cultural exchange, not only for Finnish practitioners, but also for their American, English and Irish colleagues. Thus, in addition to organizing several rounds of Calls for Applications in Finland, each Institute also invited US, British and Irish professionals to participate in the program. Even though there was no requirement for bilateral institutional exchange, some partners and participants did that as well. For instance, the Design Museum in Helsinki and the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York exchanged curators, and both curators Suvi Saloniemi and Andrea Lipps worked towards the design triennial Beauty, which took place in New York in March 2016. Likewise, the Brooklyn-based Residency Unlimited (RU) partnered with the Helsinki-based Helsinki International Artist Programme (HIAP) through the curators Boshko Boskovic and Jenni Nurmenniemi’s mutual exchange. In this case, Boskovic’s fellowship brought into the process even a third partner, the Finnish Museum of Photography. In FCINY we wanted to encourage both professionals working within institutions and freelance curators and researchers, or people “having their feet” in both curating and academic research, to participate in MOBIUS. This way also freelancers had a rare chance to familiarize themselves
with institutional working patterns “from the inside,” and the institutions were able to benefit from the freelancers’ un-institutional points of view. There have been, of course, some decisive differences in terms of conceptualization of productions and curatorial processes, but concluding from the feedback discussions we have had with partners and participants, in every occasion there has happened a lot of learning, on both sides. All the projects that have been realized so far through MOBIUS have been enriching for the participating institutions’ own programming: either by being a good fit with or broadening the scope of their own exhibitions, seminars and discussion series, or by bringing in brand new content that the institutions would not have otherwise produced— or a new way of producing things, or simply a novel way of approaching artistic problems. The themes of the projects realized, due to the cross-Atlantic connections between Finnish and American fellows and hosts, have included the waterfronts of coastal cities, post-fossil futures, the concept of deep time, the conceptual meanings of frame in contemporary art, aspects of beauty in Finnish design, the input of bloggers in the global fashion system, the art and play of Tom of Finland, the boundary between artworks and their surroundings, and the phenomenon of tech-secessionism. From the point of view of the facilitating organization, MOBIUS has provided much more than just valuable experience in connecting people and organizations. Since finding the right institutional matches for the fellows has often required precise and detailed customizing, largely because of the content-based approach, FCINY as an expert organization has learned a lot. And learning has of course continued in the process of following different phases of the fellows’ personal projects. The high-profile hosts of the fellows, from the grassroots organizations to the ones representing establishment in their respective fields, have also become valued partners of the two Institutes “behind the scenes.” Whether the experience has been career-changing by enabling the fellows to see things from a different perspective—many of the fellows have called this the true “bounty” of the program—or a priceless opportunity for professional networking or for learning about structural institutional differences, the MOBIUS program contains the potential for major long term effects. It has done much more than provide a chance to produce smart projects realized within rather swift schedules. When discussing the multiple productive features of the program, I have often used the metaphor of throwing a stone into the water: it is difficult to even see all the “circles in the water,” the ever-broadening effects that MOBIUS has set in motion, and continues to create.
Leena-Maija Rossi was the Executive Director of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York in 2011–16. It was during her term that the MOBIUS program was launched in collaboration with the Finnish Institute in London.
INSTEAD OF VOLUME AND NUMBERS, MOBIUS FOCUSES ON THE THEMATIC AND ARTISTIC CONTENT OF THE COLLABORATION.
Learn more about the core values of MOBIUS on pp. 16â€“22
Deep Time Séance
Deep Time Séance was an event that altered the premises of Residency Unlimited, a former Congregational Church in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, into a place where rational and mythical perceptions of the Earth collided—and merged. Through seamless interplay of animated image, ethereal soundscape, circulating sculptural elements, and an exchange of stories, the séance took its participants on a meditative journey across crystallized strata of time. It gazed both into the deep history and possible post-human futures of the Earth. The one-night event begun with a sharing stories session guided by New York based artist TATIANA ISTOMINA. It was followed by a site-specific video installation and live music performance by Helsinki based artist TUOMAS A. LAITINEN and musician MATTI AHOPELTO (Siinai), during which the space was activated by a number of small sculptural energy objects created by artist JAAKKO PALLASVUO. The concept of deep time, introduced by Scottish geologist James Hutton (1726–1797), allows looking into the circulation of matter through the geological history of our planet. It opens up a possibility to understand the dizzying depths of time beyond human comprehension. In the early years of the 20th century, séance signified a ritualistic session for communicating with the spiritual world. This séance, however, called for poetic contemplation upon the Anthropocene Era, where there is no more “Nature” uninfluenced by or separable from the consequences of human actions, where humans have become a force of nature. Deep Time Séance was a ritual for imagining possible futures for all the material, the things and beings inhabiting the Earth.
Jenni Nurmenniemi, Curator of HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, participated in the MOBIUS Fellowship Program as Residency Unlimited’s fellow in New York in Feb–Apr, 2015. Her MOBIUS project Deep Time Séance focused on ideas of deep time and possible futures of the Earth. The Séance was conducted at the Residency Unlimited on April 8, 2015. The second iteration of the Deep Time Séance took place at Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art on October 18, 2015.
Tuomas Laitinen, Deep Time SĂŠance, video stills, 2015
Tuomas Laitinen, Deep Time SĂŠance, video stills, 2015
Tuomas Laitinen, Deep Time SĂŠance, video stills, 2015
Deep Time SĂŠance at Residency Unlimited, New York in April 2015. Photo: Sebastien Santamaria.
THERE IS NO MORE “NATURE” UNINFLUENCED BY OR SEPARABLE FROM THE CONSEQUENCES OF HUMAN ACTION.
Paavo Järvensivu in discussion with Ilari Laamanen
CREATING TOOLS FOR BUILDING POST-FOSSIL FUEL SOCIETY How do image ecologies, or networks of images as objects in circulation, operate as a means for changing human relationships to fossil fuels? How can we really understand what life would be without fossil fuels? These questions formed the core of Helsinki-based Paavo Järvensivu’s MOBIUS fellowship at The Amie and Tony James Gallery, The Center for Humanities, The Graduate Center, The City University of New York in late 2015. Järvensivu’s stay in New York culminated in a seminar that discussed political, economic and cultural battles and visions related to this transition, with special attention to different perspectives in the US, across Europe, and in the Global South. The event was organized and hosted by Paavo Järvensivu in collaboration with the James Gallery, and featured presentations by ASHLEY DAWSON and artist group NOT AN ALTERNATIVE.
In the following discussion, Paavo Järvensivu and Manager of MOBIUS New York, Ilari Laamanen reflect on Järvensivu’s fellowship and discuss the interdisciplinary nature of both his practice and the MOBIUS Fellowship Program at large.
You finished your PhD in organizational cultures at the Aalto University School of Economics in 2010 before engaging in transdisciplinary projects with artists, philosophers and natural and social scientists. Could you tell me about choosing to take that path? My doctoral study was actually on corporate strategy but I approached it from the perspective of organizational culture. This already says quite a bit: in the business school, at our department at least, you could choose your theoretical approach rather freely. There wasn’t a single, solid-seeming framework or a school of thought that all doctoral students should more or less draw on. Theories were, thus, seen as tools, different theories providing different viewpoints to the same empirical phenomenon. This is something I am very grateful for, to have had the opportunity to get to know different approaches rather than being born as a scholar with one theoretical identity. That said, of course any business school comes with a certain institutional context or a cage, if you will. In that context, firms are natural entities whose license to operate is not much thought about. And their natural aim is to grow forever and to profit their owners as much as possible. And so on. I suppose I was always interested in the bigger picture as well, the one where you have natural ecosystems (as opposed to business ecosystems), politics and culture. To operate with these things, I had to widen the search. I began to look for non-economic ways of being, and this lead me to Mustarinda, the artist and researcher collective that was launched just before I finished my PhD. Could you walk me through the very beginning of your MOBIUS Fellowship period at the James Gallery, Graduate Center, City University of New York compared to now? What have been the key insights that have influenced your work after returning to Finland from New York? I can’t recall very clearly what my expectations of the city and the James Gallery were in the beginning, but I guess I thought that everything must be kind of a spectacle there. I was planning to arrange a symposium during my fellowship so I had all kinds of ideas like preparing video material, and so on. Already during the email correspondence with Katherine Carl from the Gallery, before my actual trip, I felt that maybe my preconceptions were a bit off. It turned out that the academic/artistic New York I went into was about really small, intimate events, with rather shy presenters. And not much ethnic or cultural diversity, especially in the more theoretically-oriented contemporary art events, I must say. In some sense the small scale of things felt nice, weirdly homely, but on the other hand I was wondering whether these small discussions can have any impact on the wider audience. There’s no media with a wide audience that could report in any meaningful way of any of the small discussions, for instance. In Finland, it feels good to know that basically anyone can get heard and thus hope to make an impact—even without being involved in big business or politics.
One anecdotal episode that had an impact on me was when I learned that in a public university you couldn’t move chairs by yourself. You had to ask for a dedicated person to do that. And this was in the land of freedom. Amusing but not so surprising, at least for those that have read authors like Mark Fisher (Capitalist Realism). In your practice you are invested in outlining future societies and their (dys)functionality without fossil fuels. Did you sense the urgency for this kind of explorations in the United States? How do you see the discourses differing in Northern America and Northern Europe? I didn’t really see that urgency. Not in a way that would have touched the questions I feel are the most important (Can we live in the same way without fossil fuels? If not, how would we live?). Most of the discussions I got to know were somehow oriented around post-colonialist studies. And from this perspective, Native Americans fighting the Dakota pipeline is the culmination of everything related to fossil fuels. It is an important action and dimension, for sure, but what I didn’t discover was thoughts about “then what”: when all fossil fuel infrastructure is shut down through successful citizen activism, how do we organize the society then? What powers our actions, and what will our actions be? I did get the chance to talk with quite a few people knowledgeable about what gets discussed in the city, and somehow this aspect didn’t come up at all. My hunch is that it doesn’t really fit into any pre-existing academic school of thought, and that academics, and to some extent also artists in New York, are more bound with these schools than in Northern Europe or in the Nordic countries, at least. Here it is easier to get people to think outside their (formal) education. Here there’s a lot of freethinking or educating oneself related to post-fossil fuel thinking, especially. Philosophers and artists learning about the material and social realities of different kinds of oils, for instance. And not in a fetishistic way, or a cool way, producing nice anecdotes and so, but really trying to understand what’s important. Well, I’m not in the position to say that this would be a real difference between the discourses in Northern America and Northern Europe, but at least it’s a beginning of a thought… As a hybrid program, MOBIUS enables and supports interdisciplinary work and new forms of collaboration. Based on your experience, what are the most valuable features of this kind of program? What features or methods would you encourage other organizations and institutions to use? What I really liked about MOBIUS was the excellent, unusual balance between structure and freedom. I was given intimate access to work with some of the best people, and for some reason—which probably has to do with the way you MOBIUS people contacted them and discussed with them—they were also prepared to work with me on my symposium. The symposium seemed to complement their program nicely. This all happened without me doing anything except saying what I would like to do (well, of course that requires already something). So there I was, working with good, motivated people on a tight schedule, but I felt no extra pressure from MOBIUS. I was given the opportunity to look around, experiment, and fail, also.
In relation to interdisciplinary and collaborative practices: could you elaborate a bit on the current state and your role as part of BIOS Research Unit and Mustarinda Association? How do these structures function and develop themselves? Both are working with similar issues, anticipating deep socio-ecological transformations and creating tools for building post-fossil fuel society. BIOS does this based on multidisciplinary research, whereas Mustarinda does more experimental things. Both are rather ad-hoc structures born out of the experiences of the people that constitute them. Having enough structure is a constant challenge. The organizations are meant to last for years and years, but the skilled, autonomous people that make up the organizations don’t always seem to have time or patience to build structures. They want to “just do it”. It is a constant struggle to find ways to accomplish things efficiently in a socially sustainable manner. Mustarinda has always had serious difficulties in financing its basic operations, including running an artist and researcher residency in mid-Finland, next to an old-growth forest. Mustarinda involves mostly voluntary work that is based on people’s willingness to do things together, within the context of Mustarinda. BIOS first got a two-year pilot grant and recently another four-year grant from the Kone Foundation. It means that seven people can work together full-time in a focused way—somehow this feels amazing in the current political atmosphere defined by austerity, although what we do is something that should be on a very basic funding. What would be more basic than studying how the global environmental and resource pressures affect Finland, its economy, politics and culture? At some level it’s quite odd that we feel like celebrating having secured a few years’ funding for this. My role…I’ve lost track of what it is. In Mustarinda and in BIOS everyone’s skills are used according to whatever needs to be done. It doesn’t always correspond to what people’s formal educations are. What would you say is the essence, the core of your work? Right now I would answer that it is about getting across two ideas: that people are cultural creatures also outside of “culture” (theater, concert, gallery), particularly in politics and in the economy, and that people are still bounded by nature (not Nature with capital N, as Timothy Morton would remind us). Fossil fuels didn’t make us immaterial although for a moment some of us got to forget our material dependencies. Very simple ideas, but try to explain that when the government tells you we should all dedicate ourselves to growing the GDP. This is where it gets complicated. What is your definition of achievement? I once thought that one should have made an achievement before turning 40. I’m pretty sure we won’t be post-fossil by the time I’m 40. So I hope smaller achievements count, like getting to do fun and meaningful work with the loveliest people. In your opinion, how much should people travel and relocate themselves these days? How do you see the relation between local and global through your actions?
It seems we should be travelling less and more slowly. That is if we are to reduce emissions rapidly and to live in a more just planet. But I’m more interested in how to improve oneself as a traveler, how to actually get something out of it. This is one of the main themes in my recent book (Abundant Money in a World of Scarce Resources would be the English translation): how to improve our sense of unique things or scarce resources. To quote my BIOS colleague Ville Lähde: some things we need to do differently, some things we need to give up, some things we will get instead. I am quite romantic what comes to the opportunities to travel better instead of more/faster. And even simple remote services like Skype can actually do quite a lot, at least if there’s first one good, real contact. If I asked you to make decisions on cultural funding for the year 2018 in Finland, where would you channel that money? What kind of initiatives, organizations and gestures are worthwhile supporting? I would like to see experimental and good quality stuff dealing with the important issues of our time. Those that were funded would also most likely be putting a lot of effort to question and rebuild their whole processes, not just the end product, in material and energetic terms. I would like to see MOBIUS fellows travelling on a container ship running on wind, with undefined amount of time… What is the biggest lie of today? That we are running out of money. Actually we are running out of many many things, but money is possibly the only thing on the planet that is not scarce.
Helsinki-based independent writer and researcher Paavo Järvensivu was a MOBIUS Fellow at The Amie and Tony James Gallery, The Graduate Center, City University of New York in fall 2015. During the fellowship, Järvensivu continued his research on post-fossil fuel societies and organized a symposium in collaboration with the James Gallery.
Design Museum, Helsinki Eriika Johansson
EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art
Finland’s National Board of Antiquities
Finnish Museum of Photography
Virve Miettinen Dobrawa Brach-Kaluchna
The Finnish National Archives Service
Finnish National Gallery
Frame Contemporary Art Finland British Library
Helinä Rautavaara Ethnographic Museum
Burrell Collection CIRCA Projects
Helsinki Art Museum Sari Mäenpää
Helsinki City Library
Cornwall Record Office
Helsinki City Museum Ulla Teräs
IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art
Manchester Art Gallery
HEUREKA – The Finnish Science Centre
Manchester City Museums
HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme
Merseyside Maritime Museum
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Inka Laine
Museum of London
Maritime Museum of Finland, Kotka
National Gallery of Ireland
Museum of Finnish Architecture
Hanna Hagmark-Cooper National Galleries of Scotland
The National Media Museum
National Museums Liverpool
Tampere Art Museum Mikaela Lostedt
National Museum of Scotland Royal Academy of Arts
Science Gallery Dublin Jonna Strandberg
Isa Päivinen Tate Britain Minna Rajaniemi Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums The Whitworth William Morris Gallery
Martti Kalliala Boshko Boskovic Vassiliki Tzanakou Stefan Kalmár Johanna Hyrkäs
Artists Space Meri Louekari
Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum
James Gallery / The Graduate Center, CUNY
The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology Jenni Nurmenniemi No Longer Empty
Residency Unlimited Suvi Saloniemi
Van Alen Institute
Paavo Järvensivu Mike Egan Elisa Heikkilä Maria Koskijoki
CLOUDS OF COMPETENCIES: MOBIUS PROGRAMME BUILDING BRIDGES FOR THE FUTURE
Megatrend reports tell us all the same message. Technology will change everything, and work will not be the same any longer. There will be more leisure time. Intellectual and emotional hunger should be directed to a smart path. One could ask: what does this mean for museums, archives and visual art organisations as well as art and culture professionals working for them? In the following I’ll discuss the topic from the point of view of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program, a joint venture between the Finnish Institute in London and the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, initiated in 2013. Based on the scenario above, it’s easy to state that museums and archives are more important today than ever before. Firstly, when work changes, our relation to time changes, too. People will have more time outside work— they might spend it hanging out in the social media, contributing to society through volunteer work, or utilising services provided by the culture industries, just to name a few examples of the many. In this kind of a setting, museums and archives are a good option. As sociologists have pointed out, visiting an art exhibition can make you feel elevated, and even like a better person. Secondly, memory organisations such as museums and archives form the backbone of our collective identity. In the world of disrupted media environment, we no longer share the same facts, let alone values. The topics that occupy our minds are hard to handle: they range from climate change to migration, natural disasters, terrorism, intolerable poverty and unfortunate political decisions. Worlds are drifting apart, and the new class divider is information gap: our capacity to cope with the excessive amount of knowledge. In a situation like this, we need tools to experience, analyse and understand the world around us. Museums are capable of elaborating on large questions on a safe ground. Art and culture at large build our cultural DNA: they can help us understand who we are. Art and culture organisations, in their turn, provide the physical platform for research, exhibitions and displays, projects and tryouts. They are safe environments in which to discuss even disturbing and horrifying issues. Archives and collections are needed to safeguard the documents, objects and works that will pass the message to the future generations. Therefore, we need better museum and visual arts professionals than ever before. They have to be curious
and alert, they have to master the contents, and they have to be well-connected with the rest of the world. These are some of the thoughts and ideas that triggered the MOBIUS Fellowship Program. According to my experience, it’s all about human connections, trust and expertise. But it’s also about friendship and imagination, real life and real contacts. We definitely need programmes such as MOBIUS that give professionals a possibility to both share with, and learn from, their colleagues. TRUST AND NETWORKS
The mobility of professionals can be regarded as one of the keys to success for any organisation in the future. Consequently, one could say that the exchange of expertise, flexibility, trust and networks are the building blocks of our future. The MOBIUS Fellowship Program for visual arts, museum and archive professionals has been a concrete way to investigate what happens when professionals are offered a chance to work in another country and learn from their peers. During its pilot phase (2014–2016), nearly 40 professionals worked more than 100 months in 40 organisations in the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the United States and Finland. This has formed a platform for fruitful contacts and project ideas, and resulted in exhibitions, projects and published articles, to mention just a few examples. (I can also imagine the other half of the story: coffee breaks, sharing jokes, comparing practises, making friendships that might last a very long time, if not forever.) Working abroad, in another institution, teaches a lot. We set some preconditions for the MOBIUS Fellowship Program and expected the fellows to 1) learn and share various modes of operation, knowledge and expertise; 2) analyse and develop operational models and structures within museums, archives and visual arts organizations; and 3) realise or initiate a joint project (exhibition, research, event, etc.) in collaboration with the hosting organisation’s staff. The results, in all their richness, can be found at the MOBIUS website. All the experiences benefited both parties: the fellows and the hosting organisations. For the hosting organisations, MOBIUS opened a window to another work culture. For the fellows, the exchange was not only about learning from their peers but also being able to analyse one’s daily work environment from a distance. It was also about understanding the practical issues to be taken into account when moving from one country to another, even for a period of 2–3 months. Gas bills, mobile phones, landlords, shopping for groceries, moving not just oneself but also pets and children… and getting to know new colleagues.
(Above and overleaf) During her MOBIUS Fellowship at the National Gallery of Ireland’s Department of Conservation in Spring 2015, Minna Rajaniemi, who works as an Art Conservator at the Tampere Art Museum, focused on the overall management and care of collections, alongside learning about the National Gallery’s working methods.
The MOBIUS Fellowship Program has been open to all professions within visual arts, museums and archives. Conservators, curators, specialists in public programmes, museum technicians, marketing professionals, museum directors and archivists are just a few examples of the variety of professions that have been included in the programme. All levels of expertise have been welcome. This highlights the fact that the museum, archive and visual arts profession is much broader than, for example, in the 1990s when that professional world seemed to be run by curators only. BUILDING FOR THE FUTURE
The future of our profession is about sharing knowledge and expertise. It is also about visionary decisions and courage. Today’s world is noisier and busier than perhaps ever before. The attention span of a human being has been compared to that of a gold fish. We’re offered numerous ways to master our thoughts and well-being, to nurture our understandable need for focus and silence. This becomes obvious when looking at the selection of self-help books at airports, bookshops and alike. We’re taught how to love, think, work, manage time, lead, succeed, eat right and digest. It’s perhaps not too far-fetched to say that at times we’re anxious to tame the hectic rhythm and return to the cave with typewritten letters and landline calls—if not even them. This profession carries the responsibility of making parts of the excessive information, or noise, discernible. The way of working will surely move towards clouds of competencies and professional bridge building. Instead of having all possible areas of expertise within existing organisations, both on national and international level, we might collect teams of specialists around projects. We might want to involve audiences in the production of knowledge as many organisations have already been doing for quite some time. And we surely want to question our prevailing practices and methods of working and develop relationships with other sectors of society. These are also the reasons why we need more professional mobility. As discussed, the work and methods in museums and archives are constantly changing and developing. Having said that, there’s still one thing that won’t change no matter what the medias or spaces of display are: the human need to encounter the authentic, original object, document or an artwork. Museums and archives continue to be the places to go for inspiration and contemplation. They offer a gateway for slowing down or getting really high. Even more so in the future. Professional mobility makes the possibilities even better.
Finally, I wish to thank all the supporters of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program for their visionary courage. All the Fellows for getting inspired by the possibility, and for learning and sharing their experiences. All the experts for selecting the candidates and matching them with the best possible organisations. All the hosting organisations for the hospitality and open mind. And last but not least, all the staff members of the Finnish Institutes both in London and New York for making all this happen. Personally, I think that the MOBIUS Fellowship Program provides us a good model for any future initiatives in terms of the mobility of professionals. And I wish that all the contacts established during the programme will be nurtured in the future, in order to grow something life-changing and important—for the benefit of the audiences.
Susanna Pettersson was the Director of the Finnish Institute in London in 2013–2014. It was during her term that the MOBIUS Fellowship Program was launched in collaboration with the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York.
AN IMAGINATIVE NARRATIVE PLACING THE VIEWER BETWEEN SEVERAL REALITIES.
Read more about Boshko Boskovic’s Interpreting the Frame project on pp. 84–95
Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play
The Pleasure of Play is the most comprehensive Tom of Finland survey exhibit on to date, spanning six decades to include more than 180 drawings, 1930s childhood paper dolls, the full set of 1940s gouaches along with triptychs, individual drawings, storyboards and over 300 reference pages. The exhibition is curated by Stefan Kalmár. Touko Laaksonen’s, aka Tom of Finland’s (1920, Kaarina–1991, Helsinki) biography parallels pivotal moments of 20th century (gay) history, bearing witness to the disasters, the turmoil and the radical changes that took place during his lifetime. Indeed, his work stands in dialectical relationship to these events and the often oppressive culture that surrounded him. Starting from an early age, Tom of Finland played with the iconographic conventions upon which both the representation and the very conception of masculinity are based. His emblematic, larger-thanlife drawn phalluses threaten not only the existing symbolic order of heterosexuality, but also reorganize the principles by which (homo)sexual desires are structured. This fearless portrait of sexuality can also be read as a portrait of the sadomasochistic relationship that is at play between culture and subculture itself, an aspect that runs through gay culture of the 20th and 21st centuries as much as it is present in Tom of Finland’s biography and work. Working from 1956 to 1973 as senior art director at one of the first global advertising agencies, it is likely that Tom of Finland had access to a range of global mainstream publications as well as illegally published early gay magazines—both from which he would meticulously cut out details and compose on single pages to later use as studies, or as he called them, reference pages. In some respects the collages are key to an understanding of Tom of Finland’s work. During the day (at least until 1973), as an acclaimed advertising executive Tom of Finland was involved hands-on in creating the hetero-normative vision of the happy suburban family of the late 1950s; while at night, he would cut up the very basis of his own work (print advertising) to study, to analyze and to categorize—turning these reference pages towards the exact opposite of their origin. One aspect of Tom of Finland’s drawings is that the faces of his protagonists feature a familiar, recognizable likeness—these bold, grinning faces, while in the act of sadomasochistic play, present a fearless vision of sexuality pointing towards the culture that constructed the relationship between sexuality and fear in the first place. (All photos from Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play, Artists Space, 2015)
Stefan Kalmár participated in the MOBIUS Fellowship Program in Spring 2015. Through the program he was able to spend time in Helsinki in order to do research on late Touko Laaksonen, better known as Tom of Finland. Laaksonen remains one of the most internationally recognized Finnish visual artists. In Helsinki Kalmár was hosted by MOBIUS partner Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art. The partnership between Artists Space and the organization’s then-director Kalmár, MOBIUS Fellowship Program and the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York culminated in the opening of The Pleasure of Play: an exhibition celebrating Laaksonen’s legacy. The Pleasure of Play was on view at the Artists Space from June 14 to September 13, 2015. The exhibition was supported by MOBIUS. The Pleasure of Play saw its second iteration at the Kunsthalle Helsinki a year later (May 5–August 7, 2015).
Daniel Neumann Untitled, 1974, graphite & Juanon Betancurth, paper, private In the collection, Myth of the Sweden. Actual,Photo site-specific ÂŠ Jeansound Vong. installation, 2016
Untitled, 1976, graphite on paper, Collection Ulrich Tangermann, Hamburg. Photo ÂŠ Jean Vong.
Untitled, 1979, graphite on paper, courtesy of the Judith Rothschild Foundation, New York. Photo ÂŠ Jean Vong.
Installation view. Photo: Daniel PĂŠrez.
Reference pages, ca.1966â€“90, collage on paper, Tom of Finland Foundation, Permanent Collection. Photo: Daniel PĂŠrez
Every morning there’s a 100-meter queue in front of the British Library. It seems to say a lot about the unashamed nerdiness and love for learning in this city. Usually, the queuers have already put the things they might need in the Reading Room in a clear plastic bag, so they can head straight down to the lockers, stow away their coats, handbags and laptop cases and secure a place on the beach of learning, just like holidaymakers crowding the sunny beaches of Spain. And why am I standing here? I’m participating in the MOBIUS Fellowship Programme, organised by the Finnish Institute in London. The programme enables mobility for visual arts, museum, library and archives professionals, and customised working periods as part of the host organisation’s staff, in my case, the British Library. The programme is a great opportunity to break away from daily routines, to think about one’s professional identity, find fresh ideas, compare the practices and methods between the two countries, share knowledge and build meaningful networks.
ON THE BEACH OF LEARNING
Although London surprises and teaches me new things every day, learning isn’t a destination. It’s a neverending road of discovery, challenge, inspiration and wonder. Each learning moment builds character, shapes thoughts, guides futures. But what makes us learn? For me the answer is other people, and during the MOBIUS Fellowship I’ve been blessed with the chance to work with talented people willing to share their knowledge. The MOBIUS programme gives you possibilities to learn in many different ways. Learning can come in the form of participating in conferences and seminars, working as part of units and teams, visiting, evaluating and mystery shopping different cultural centres and institutions, arranging workshops and events, taking part in community service activities or familiarising oneself with organisational cultures, strategies, structures and ways of working. Any which way you choose, the MOBIUS Programme allows you to step out from your professional comfort zone and truly find your way to something fresh. From my perspective, the most valuable learning moments have been informal—just the sheer sharing of knowledge and experiences from peer to peer. Peer learning isn’t easy to orchestrate, but it’s something that I hope the programme will cultivate even more in the future. Supporting interaction among peers can foster some of the most fruitful learning experiences, because peers often share a deep understanding of each others’ common challenges, experiences and practices in an ever-changing and increasingly connected world. And what really makes you learn is the difference— you let go of familiar social circles, practices and cultural habits, and dive into the strange world, the “global village” called London. Being away from home gives you an opportunity to see life where you truly are on your own. You make your own decisions and mistakes, without the wings of support. In the process, you are able to dispel stereotypes and misconceptions about your roots and open a window to a rich mix of possibilities and point of views you were not even conscious about. Every day you work and interact with people from a whole assortment of backgrounds. For example, in the British Library, staff members come from every corner of the world, and the whole organisation aims to be inclusive, valuing difference and the benefits it brings. The collections at the BL represent the diversity of the world’s cultures, and the organisation is committed to employing people from equally diverse backgrounds. You start the day by greeting the Jamaican janitor, continue with creative marketers from India and Israel, and finally wrap up the day with experts and technical innovators from Brazil and Poland.
MY FAVOURITE DESK, 2163
London truly is a giant melting pot—an endless mosaic of people, races, colours, languages, faiths, cultures. The difference in scale and scope can be felt in the city but also in the work place. I get lost almost every day, and it’s too bad I can’t use my HERE app in the library premises and in the UK’s largest, most expensive, and arguably most controversial public building of the 20th century. But every day I’m discovering more of its labyrinthine spaces, where altogether 1400 staff members work every day. The library’s carefully considered interiors achieve their ultimate goal: that of creating a space to inspire thought and learning—with vast exhibition spaces, many cafés & restaurants, a learning centre, event spaces and shops. The library is well-organized and managed—like most of the British culture institutions. Plans, processes and practices are carefully documented and in line with strategic aims and big scale transformation projects. Management is efficient, and everyone seems to know their role, duties and responsibilities. All in all, the cultural institutions here in the UK are rapid to plan and execute successful changes—they’re forced to because there’s so much competition for people’s free time. Also, the museum and library branding needs to stand out from the crowd by giving the organisation an image and personality with which visitors and supporters can identify, increasing their emotional attachment and encouraging them to return. Productivity and results need to be of a high quality because of the different kind of financial structure. This structure increases the courage to boldly open up the concepts of libraries and museums and to seek for new perspectives and be the one who feeds the discussions about life. All this is a joy for a newcomer—it’s easy to orientate oneself and get the big picture and an overall perspective to the cultural scene and everyday functions at the library. They hand me many guide books and documents on the very first day—the user personas, customer segments, brand handbook—everything neatly packed. Also, when I get a chance to tell about the participatory work we’ve done in Helsinki City Library we start to find more “common ground” and exchange experiences. They give us MOBIUS Fellows the nickname “critical friend” during the autumn period—we are supportive and we always have time for a dialogue, but at the same time we offer the “outsider’s honest and revealing look” at London’s cultural landscape and the organisations we work for. Of course, the MOBIUS experience varies from person to person, and it also depends a lot on where you are situated, how well your programme aligns with your interests, how you shape your social life in the city and most importantly, what kind of opportunities come by
and which of those you latch onto. In my case, I feel a lot of factors worked out nicely in my favor and paved the way for a great experience. I’ve familiarised myself with the British Library Learning Team, which is responsible for the library’s engagement with all kinds of learners. The Learning Team offers workshops, activities and resources for schools, teachers and learners of all ages. I’ve been following the work of the Digital Scholarship team and BL Labs project to learn more about the incredible digital collections the library has to offer, and how to open them up for the public through various activities, such as competitions, events and projects. I’ve worked with the Knowlegde Quarter, which is a network of now 76 partners, within a one-mile radius of Kings Cross, who actively create and disseminate knowledge. Partners include over 49 academic, cultural, research, scientific and media organisations large and small: from the British Library and University of the Arts London to the School of Life, Connected Digital Economy Catapult, the Francis Crick Institute and Google. I’ve assisted the Library’s Community Engagement Manager Emma Morgan. She has been working as a community engagement manager for six months now, and the aim of her work is to create meaningful, long-lasting, mutually beneficial relationships with the surrounding community, i.e. residents, networks and organisations. I’ve observed the library’s marketing and communications unit in action and learned for example how they measure and research the customer experience, i.e. who visits and uses the BL, what they think of their experience and how the BL might improve it. And in the end, I’m impressed! Even my own favourite place to work, my private club and second home in London appears to be at Humanities 1, the main reading room of the British Library (once described by Prince Charles as “the assembly hall of an academy for secret police”). It’s true it doesn’t possess the grandeur of the National Library of Finland’s Reading Room, where the vaulted ceiling is decorated with vivid frescos surrounding a cloud-tossed sky. By contrast, Humanities 1 is a little bureaucratic, even dowdy, furnished with sober oak tables and green leather chairs. But its plainness is what makes it such an excellent place to work: a zone of mutual concentration, a temple consecrated to the endless delights of learning more about the world, a place where you can meet an extraordinarily diverse collection of— people (not books)—from famous novelists to budding entrepreneurs using the Business and IP centre. I once even spotted Salman Rushdie sitting there in his leather jacket, up in Hum 1, when someone had already bagged my favourite desk, 2163.
EMPATHY DEFICIT AND CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS
When I stepped onto the Paddington station from the Heathrow Express train, on my very first day in London in the middle of August, stress, delays and over-priced caffeine were probably the first things that sprang to my mind—but at the same time, I was also stepping into the whirlwind of Brexit. The vote and the reaction to it could be felt everywhere, like an anxious overlay to everything I saw and did. For while the reverberations of the Brexit vote were felt around the world, it was surely the UK capital that felt the greatest shock, a city with close economic and cultural ties across Europe and home to almost a million European Union nationals. London’s prosperity has depended not simply on tourism or business but also on culture and the creative industries. London is a cultural powerhouse, and what it offers is unique, not just for its size but also for its diversity and dynamism. It combines renowned museums, art collections and institutions alongside with global media and entertainment industries, a substantial base of artists, start-ups, creative communities and entrepreneurs. Cultural institutions were eagerly taking part in the on-going discussions in the society, trying to find firm ground, and their role, in the post-Brexit world. They seemed to believe that culture can change the world, and if the arts are a mirror of society then they must have a role in shaping the public discourse. The Brexit vote showed the growing disillusionment with conventional political processes: increased devolution and a greater emphasis on local leadership, how filter bubbles are destroying the democracy, post-truth politics and fake facts, the importance of digital equality and media literacy; segregation and social exclusion. Culture institutions in London were seeking new ways of how their services, functions and activities should be used to catalyse, enable and inhibit the way that people engage with the world around them. They acknowledged that they can play an effective role in developing community skills, capabilities and creativity: preparing and helping people to be engaged in their communities, to articulate their voices. Cultural institutions tried to identify some of the barriers and opportunities to become more civically engaged. UK museums and galleries are well-known for their commitment to public engagement, but how they understood the collaboration and engagement after Brexit, in a new situation, and where they thought their public engagement work was heading—these were questions that they tried to re-evaluate. I took an active interest in this discussion and tried to follow it not missing a point. I compared the situation to recent developments in Helsinki and my own work
EACH PARTNERSHIP DIFFERS FROM ONE ANOTHER, AS THE NATURE OF THE PROGRAM IS HIGHLY CUSTOMIZED.
Learn more about the guiding principles of MOBIUS, starting from p. 16
as participation planner. Helsinki has a long-standing history with design that has deepened over time, going beyond just well-designed objects into the realms of social and public design. We believe in collaborative approach and that participation and co-design help us develop a human-centric city. It is a way of working in partnership with communities, firms and people outside the city organisation to get a better outcome. Genuine participation involves sharing decision-making and power, acting and creating together or supporting community-led initiatives. Also the libraries in Helsinki are in transformation. They’re becoming community hubs and third places, which are important for civil society, democracy, civic engagement, and establishing feelings of a sense of place. The New Central Library, which will open its doors in the heart of Helsinki on 6.12.2018 (Finland’s 101st Independence Day), is already dubbed as the new cradle of citizen engagement. Libraries are seen as centers for culture, which make a variety of media come alive across genres and formats and enrich it by bringing people together to share their stories, skills and knowledge. Anyone can express themselves, try their hand at and learn new things and meet and share experiences with their peers. The central library is hoped to release the library space for diverse communal use, inviting the customers to use the library as a platform, i.e. a set of resources (services, data, tools, studios, working areas and other spaces) that enables them to independently create and experiment. In the future, libraries are becoming “little city halls”, which continually work with public involvement and where residents can find information on the possibilities to influence the city and be involved in its decision-making. To achieve this new role as a third place, and move beyond it, libraries need to immerse themselves in the participatory change, making choices that will augment, without overturning, the library’s functions and services. A service design approach and co-creative methods can serve as a thoughtful road map for speeding this transformation. This of course requires an organisation-wide approach, which involves lots of changes across the service. I must say, I admire the brave discussion and agile changes cultural institutions were willing to make to respond to the shifts transforming the surrounding society and citizens’ needs. In 2016 the challenges facing society appear chaotic, cruel and unknowable. It was clear to all that to make positive changes and a strong impact, cultural institutions need expertise, knowledge and insight from the widest range of perspectives. The conclusion seemed to be that arts and culture are uniquely placed to bring the creative imagination to bear these complex
and difficult times, and to enable deeper understanding of who we are in relation to the world around us. Also population is becoming more diverse. What we consider art is changing. How we access arts and culture is evolving. Our communities, quite rightly, now have higher expectations about how they will be involved in the creation of their arts and culture. It seemed that the rather sterile debate between “art-for-art’s-sake” and those who stressed tourism, talent for the creative industries and soft power were giving way to the idea of “empathetic citizens”. This is the idea that arts and culture are, at their core, the telling of human stories, which allow us to put ourselves in other’s shoes. Perhaps Barack Obama was right when saying “The biggest deficit that we have in our society and in the world right now is an empathy deficit. We are in great need of people being able to see the world through somebody else’s eyes.” A similar change of perspective sums up my MOBIUS experience, because on my return, I felt I had changed. When I was nearly done with the exchange programme, I felt as if I was leaving a big part of myself behind. It was a special journey that I was just about to complete. Nostalgia swept over me as I was closing the door of my Airbnb room for the last time and handing over the keys to my wonderful host. I returned home as a woman who had found her purpose.
Virve Miettinen, the Participation Planner of Helsinki City Library, was a MOBIUS Fellow at the British Library, London, UK in August–December, 2016. She focused on researching the Finnish-British relationships at the British Library in order to open a digital gallery Tales of Two Countries as a part of the Finland’s 100-year Anniversary in 2017.
Interpreting the Frame
The exhibition Interpreting the Frame, curated by Boshko Boskovic, uses several photographic archives as a point of departure to commission new works by Helsinki and New York based artists. The primary source of inspiration was the rich collection of the Finnish Museum of Photography along with several photography collections from Russia and the United States. This initiative portrays artistic responses to the past through pictures from private family albums, institutional archives and historic documents. The works presented take many forms, including sculpture, drawing, film, video and site specific installation. The participating artists are ZELJKA BLAKSIC, LIINU GRÖNLUND, TATIANA ISTOMINA, JONNA KINA, TANJA KOLJONEN, JUUSO NORONKOSKI and MIKKO RIKALA. The seven contemporary artists initially excavated and analyzed materials by well-known as well as amateur photographers from different eras and topographies. Their working method is an act of translation where the original images become a foundation for creating new artifacts. The artists are challenged to come up with visual solutions through different modes of engagement, generated as a direct response from their interaction with archival materials. The resulting illustrations unlock and foreclose interpretive possibilities, allowing viewers to experience historicity affectively, creating an atmosphere and a space for reflection on the passage of time. The aspiration for this project is to build a framework within which artists are inspired to produce new compositions by employing archival photographs that are subsequently decoded and reconstituted. This undertaking establishes an open field of dialogue between historic collections and diverse contemporary practices, leaving room for surprises and unexpected developments. Each newly commissioned work becomes an imaginative narrative placing the viewer between several realities, which continuously travel backward and forward. This proliferation of prospects is one of the most stimulating and rewarding outcomes that a perspective spectator discovers in experiencing the exhibited works.
Boshko Boskovic, the Program Manager of Residency Unlimited, New York and MOBIUS Fellow of HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme, spent a research period in Helsinki in June 2014 in order to familiarize himself with HIAP’s working methods and to do background research for the exhibition Interpreting the Frame. His MOBIUS Fellowship culminated in the opening of the exhibition at HIAP in January 30, 2015. Reinterpreting the Frame, the second edition of the Interpreting the Frame, was presented at the Finnish Museum of Photography, March 4–June 7, 2015.
Tanja Koljonen, Sentiment (2015), Sculpture, wood, 135 cm x 105 x 20 cm
Juuso Noronkoski & Mikko Rikala, Abandoned Fingers (2015), Two-part installation, transit case, vibration speaker, pigment print, 61 x 71cm. In their site-specific installation comprised of different elements from amateur photographer Aarne Tengenâ€™s photographs, Juuso Noronkoski & Mikko Rikala expose the vulnerabilities of the digitalization process. The degradation of images through rescanning, digital scratches and re-photographing all become part of their creative process.
Juuso Noronkoski & Mikko Rikala, Clouds Over the Library (2015), Book, 196 pages, pigment print, 36 x 26cm
Tanja Koljonen, What We See We Remember I (2015), Daguerrotype, late 1800’s, United States, 9.7 x 8cm. The focus of Tanja Koljonen’s site-specific installation Three Variations of an Image is the correlation between three objects: an American daguerreotype from the 1800’s, a wooden sculpture and an old mirror. Koljonen places the accent on the daguerrotype’s inherent tension between the past and present and how a two-hundred-year-old portrait becomes a culturally specific memory, unfolding its own narrative and thus history.
A prepubescent teenaged girl seen from the side, half-profile. The girl sits leaning forward, with a guarded smile. Underneath her elbows a lamb-skin or other light fur can be seen. She has a loose, dark dress with short sleeves. Her long blonde hair is tied back at the nape of her neck with a dark bow.
Jonna Kina, Translations (2015), Pencil on paper, 15.5 x 21.7cm, framed. Jonna Kina analyzed the accounts archivist use to portray the archival photographs that are usually not accessible to the general public. She selected a number of texts from the computer database of the Finnish Museum of Photography. Then Kina presented those to a select number of individuals who in return render drawings based upon the given texts.
A boy, who is approximately seven years old, is sitting on a chair. In the background the ocean rages. The boyâ€™s feet are crossed so that one leg is underneath him on the chair.
Jonna Kina, Translations (2015), Pencil on paper, 15.5 x 21.7cm, framed.
Zeljka Blaksic, Clearing Agent (2015), Video, 5:40
Liinu Grรถnlund, East River (2015), Video-loop, 6:40. Liinu Grรถnlund creates a video narrative from a kaleidoscope of found footage from the Internet containing landscapes of New York. The artist writes a script about the topography of New York that is subsequently incorporated into the moving images.
Boshko Boskovic in discussion with Jenni Nurmenniemi Two international artist residency centers formed the settings for one of the first interactions organized between New York and Helsinki via the MOBIUS Fellowship Program. In recent years, not only have artist-in-residence programs increased in number but also their role has become more and more significant in the production, distribution, and communication of contemporary art and artistic research in the globalized art world. Residencies also play an important part in many curators’ work. Through their MOBIUS fellowships, tailored with the support of the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, Boshko Boskovic, the Program Director of Brooklyn based Residency Unlimited, and Jenni Nurmenniemi, Curator of HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme were able to undertake work exchange periods at each other’s organizations. Gaining insight into completely new cultural context by retreating from one’s everyday environment and professional routines and responsibilities was the principal, mutually set goal for the curatorial fellowships. Each fellow took their personal curatorial approach to an unfamiliar context while absorbing fresh ideas and ways of working from their new surroundings and residency communities. Besides getting to know their host organizations closely, both curators realized their own productions in New York and Helsinki. In January 2015 at HIAP Gallery Augusta, Boskovic curated an exhibition utilizing the collections and archive material of the Finnish Museum of Photography, with several new works commissioned from artists living and working either in Helsinki or in New York. For her part, Nurmenniemi curated a one-night performative installation at the premises of Residency Unlimited in April 2015. The two projects were well-received and got direct continuation after the fellowship periods. A version of the exhibition Interpreting the Frame, curated by Boskovic, migrated to the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki, while the second episode of Nurmenniemi’s Deep Time Séance event was staged at the Kiasma Theatre in Helsinki in October 2015.
LEARNING BY RETREATING—TWO CURATORS
The following dialogue between Boskovic and Nurmenniemi opens up how they conducted their respective fellowships at HIAP in Helsinki and Residency Unlimited in New York.
Jenni, let’s start with saying that your fellowship in New York was two-folded: one part was to curate and produce your event, Deep Time Séance, and the other to further your research on artists that foster multidisciplinary dialogue on ecological questions. Was there enough hours in a day to juggle the two while discovering New York at the same time? Quite a bit of juggling was indeed needed in order to advance my main project at home, Frontiers in Retreat, which aims to foster new thinking around ecology through contemporary art, while at the same time producing a kind of event that I had never curated before in a completely unfamiliar environment. Also, part of my fellowship was dedicated to meeting the resident artists and curators at Residency Unlimited and to learn from how you organize your program. All this resulted in quite an intense but invigorating two months. During your fellowship, you had the opportunity to make studio visits with all the international artists in residency at Residency Unlimited, which at the time totaled 14. What was the most valuable thing that you got from these dialogues, and are there any projects on the horizon that materialized from these encounters? It was unbelievably valuable to get to meet all the artists at Residency Unlimited. Many of them were working on themes relevant to my ongoing work on rethinking ‘ecology’ and the meetings resulted in not only exciting discussions but also in concrete plans for future collaborations. The studio visits and other encounters facilitated by Residency Unlimited resulted in a total of two artists’ residencies (OFRI CNAANI and LENE BAADSVIG ØRMEN), two curatorial research residencies (XAVIER ACARIN and ALESSANDRO FACENTE, both of whom I met at Residency Unlimited events), and one exhibition (Lene Baadsvig Ørmen: ‘Soliloquy’) at HIAP during the year 2016. The fellowship period also gave me the motivation and means to continue developing my curatorial projects in New York. In 2016, I returned to the city for three months with the long-term aim of realizing a large-scale exhibition around ecological experimentalism in contemporary art. A fellowship is a temporal affair and supposed to be a time when one retrieves from the day-to-day operations. How did you structure your time in New York, and were you able to “disconnect” from your duties at HIAP? I am asking this question since while I was in Helsinki during my fellowship I had to carve a bit of time for my professional duties with my organization, which is a testament to the connectivity-driven world that we are currently all experiencing. During the first weeks in New York, I was working quite closely with my projects at HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme. I had tried to advance them as much as possible prior to my departure so that I could be able to properly disconnect and attune myself into the new environment for two months. However, in today’s constantly connected cultural landscape, it is nearly impossible to disconnect
ON AN EXCHANGE
IT IS DIFFICULT TO EVEN SEE ALL THE EVERBROADENING EFFECTS THAT MOBIUS HAS SET IN MOTION, AND CONTINUES TO CREATE. 98–99
Leena-Maija Rossi talks about the long-term benefits of MOBIUS partnerships on pp. 46–48
yourself completely. Thus, I stayed in touch with many of the people I was working with at the time, the axis spanning from West Africa to Kainuu, Finland. I think I was able to find a nice balance between my various projects and to gain the much-needed distance from my regular ways of working at home. Every now and then I notice with HIAP residents that they seem continuously occupied with their other projects taking place elsewhere, to the extent that, in the end, they don’t learn that much about their place of residence. You worked with three Finnish artists for your Deep Time Séance project: TUOMAS A. LAITINEN, MATTI AHOPELTO and JAAKKO PALLASVUO. Two out of the three were not present. How did this impact your choices, and was the final outcome different from how you planned it or imagined it? The choice of these three artists, who I had recently been working with in Finland, was based on my discomfort with the idea of landing in New York and having to curate a public event without any experience of the local cultural ecology or dialogue with local artists, just within 7 weeks time. I wanted to use the opportunity to create a completely unique, hard-to-categorize type of situation for RU’s amazing space, with artists that I have a close dialogue with and whose ways of working I am particularly excited about. Two of these artists’ contributions were planned in a way that did not require their physical presence. To be more concrete, with Pallasvuo, the whole idea was to transmit energies through his miniature sculptures, Energy Objects. In Laitinen’s case, the fact that his friend and trusted collaborator, musician Matti Ahopelto, was present for the whole week of the event, made the whole performative installation possible. Their artwork was based on the seamless combination of Laitinen’s animated imagery and Ahopelto’s ambient drone music. In order to bring another type of presence to the situation, I invited New York-based artist-physicist TATIANA ISTOMINA (who I first met through your MOBIUS exhibition project!) to share stories related to the subjective, yet shared, ecological anxieties that sort of sparked the whole séance to begin with. What are the similarities and differences that you observed regarding how our respective residency programs, HIAP and Residency Unlimited, function and operate? Comparing the two programs that operate with equal volumes but in radically different cities, I would say that Residency Unlimited is based on more structured networking, whereas things at HIAP tend to develop more organically. HIAP has only grown this big in the past five years, so I think I gained a lot of ideas how to further develop our networking and interlinking aspects as well as the planning and timing of public events. Residency Unlimited is extremely efficient in managing the huge number of residencies spread out in studios all across Brooklyn and Queens. You were in New York during the art fair week where fairs such as the Armory Show, Independent, Spring Break Show and Moving Image, to name a few, took place. What was your impression of seeing artworks in these circumstances, and were there any anecdotes that you
would like to share from these experiences? You can tell us about the parties as well since those are an integral part of the art fairs! From the fairs that you mentioned, Independent seemed the most fresh and intriguing to me; there I actually had the rare sensation of being surprised. I loved that. However, instead of fairs and biennials, I generally prefer a less buzzing setup when looking at art. A full week of fairs and parties is a heavy-duty operation that requires both physical and mental endurance. However, I have to admit that I enjoyed the frantic atmosphere! To me the most fun part was probably to get to see a few New York collectors’ homes and to experience their passion for living with art. All in all, the art fair week gave a nice kick-start to my New York Spring. The rest of the time I could then enjoy quieter seminars, panels, and talks as well as gallery tours and museum visits.
Could you describe briefly how you formulated your project idea? What were the key thoughts and motivations behind the concept? Why did it take this form? What kind of process was it? The idea started from the desire to work with a group of Finnish artists who all have a photo-based practice in one way or another. I also wanted to commission them to create new work for the exhibition that I was conceiving. I needed a framework where the artists reacted to something in order to produce new work. When I visited Helsinki for the first time, I fell in love with the Finnish Museum of Photography and their rich collection. Through conversations with ILARI LAAMANEN from the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York it became apparent that we could approach the museum and propose to work with their collection for the exhibition that I had in mind. Sofia Lahti, the curator of the collection of the Finnish Museum of Photography, was very receptive that the five Finnish artists (JONNA KINA, LIINU GRÖNLUND, TANJA KOLJONEN, JUUSO NORONKOSKI and MIKKO RIKALA) conduct research on their collection. The process was two-fold: I had to research the collection myself first and then assign artists to particular collections from which they did their own homework and used it as an inspiration to create new works. On temporality: you were able to divide your fellowship into two parts. Could you elaborate on the reasons for this, and what kinds of implications did this have for your MOBIUS experience? The first reason was a purely practical one since I was not able to take off work for 4–6 weeks in one go so I had to divide it in two visits. This turned out to be a great thing for the project since it allowed much more time for research, dialogue and production. The implications for my MOBIUS experience were purely positive since I could stretch my fellowship experience, so to speak, into a period of 7 months rather than condensing it into a 1 or 2 month fellowship. My first trip was in June 2014 when I did research at the Finnish Museum of Photography and had meetings with all the Finnish artists and HIAP staff. Then I
had a period of 6 months in New York where I had fruitful conversations with the artists, obviously not the entire 6 months, but periods of time where we were discussing their research of the photo collection, what they would like to do, how they would present the works, discussing the publication, writing an essay about the exhibition, etc. I ostensibly continued the fellowship period at home, which was a fantastic thing and the luxury of having all this time and support from the MOBIUS program to dedicate to one project. How did things work out in practice with the group of artists and so many institutional partners involved in your project: the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, HIAP and the Finnish Museum of Photography? It seems like a lot: five artists from Helsinki, two from New York, several institutions and a graphic designer, but because we had this time of nearly seven months to prepare, everything went very smoothly and the process was really a pleasurable experience. I have to add that the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York, which runs the MOBIUS program, had complete trust in me, which made things very easy on my side. We had regular meetings every few months where I briefed them on my progress so everyone knew where I was at any given point in time. How did you feel about entering a new cultural scene (of Helsinki) that you had little previous knowledge about beforehand? Well, I have to say that I visited Helsinki once before, just for a few days, so I had some knowledge, but definitely not a vast one. This was a great opportunity to deepen this knowledge and get to understand the scene better. I was very happy that I was able to visit places outside of Helsinki, too, such as the annual Art Festival and the new Serlachius Art Museum in MĂ¤nttĂ¤. How do the ways of organizing residency programs at HIAP differ from Residency Unlimited, and what would you consider as similarities? The biggest difference between the two programs is that HIAP is more of a centralized entity: your gallery space, the studios and housing are all on the island of Suomenlinna with three studios at Cable Factory, whereas Residency Unlimited has one central location in Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, studios in several locations throughout Brooklyn and Manhattan and housing throughout the city of New York. In terms of programs and how we schedule residents throughout the year, I feel that the two programs are somewhat similar. What kinds of long-term consequences do you think there are of your participation in this curatorial residency exchange? I think I have created long lasting relationships with many Finnish artists and colleagues from institutions in Helsinki. I feel that my knowledge of the Finnish contemporary art scene has been broadened and I have created many more friendships in Finland altogether. Now after some time, what would you consider as the most important outcome of your MOBIUS fellowship? Probably the most important outcome for me was the long-term process of creating one exhibition and the beautiful publication designed by the talented KAROLINA KONIECZNA.
The exhibition’s title “Mirage” refers to an optical phenomenon in which light is reflected and refracted through air layers of different temperatures. In a mirage we can sometimes see things that lie beyond the horizon, or it can form mirror images in which the landscape hangs upside down in the air. The exhibition, too, has its starting point in these types of distortions. The boundary between the artworks and their surroundings is obliterated and the point of transition becomes uncertain. Where does the art begin, where does it end, and what is going on behind what we see and experience? Similar to their earlier collaborations, DANIEL NEUMANN and JUAN BETANCURTH’s In A Myth of the Actual incorporates elements, structures and atmospheres from the existing milieu, which in this case is the Garden Center in Vantaa. The New York based artists analyze the prevailing situation, the site and its constituents to assemble a new structure with new rules. Sound is a key element in their installations. In A Myth of the Actual makes sound a tactile material through modules that vibrate and resonate in response to visitors. For the first time, the artists expand their work online: the room and the sound installation will be monitored and used as an instrument in Neumann’s concurrent live performances elsewhere. TANJA KOPONEN’s artistic practice is typically based on intuition and spontaneity. For I Made This For You Koponen uses a small greenhouse as a utility for addressing the need to control nature and coerce it to a system built upon our needs. She imposes the model upon wild nature and tends the plants in the greenhouse throughout the exhibition period, but with the aim of fulfilling nature’s needs instead of utilizing it.
Curator Markus Åström of Sinne, Helsinki developed his interest in public artwork projects through MOBIUS Fellowship Program by collaborating with New York-based arts organization No Longer Empty in the fall 2014. During his stay in New York City, Åström learned about Daniel Neumann and Juan Betancurth’s artistic collaboration, which infuses together sound art and sculptures. After returning to Helsinki, Åström instigated a process with Neumann and Betancurth, and invited Helsinki-based artist Tanja Koponen along. The resulting project, Mirage, was realized as a co-production between non-commercial art space Sinne and MOBIUS Fellowship Program. Mirage featured newly commissioned works by the aforementioned artists, situated inside and outside of Viherpaja Garden Center in Vantaa, Finland. Mirage was on view from April 17 to October 2, 2016.
Daniel Neumann & Juan Betancurth, In the Myth of the Actual, site-specific sound installation, 2016
Daniel Neumann & Juan Betancurth, In the Myth of the Actual, site-specific sound installation, 2016
Daniel Neumann & Juan Betancurth, In the Myth of the Actual, site-specific sound installation, 2016
Tanja Koponen, I Made This For You, site-specific installation, 2016
Tanja Koponen, I Made This For You, site-specific installation, 2016
‘(AN EXPERIENCE OF )
Helsinki through Research ‘Research’ is fast becoming a clichéd word on the international art scene. People everywhere are now talking about ‘the artist as researcher’, never mind curator, and debating how research in art relates to academic research. These discussions, more often than not, revolve around the legitimization of research in art within an academic framework, and it is primarily theoreticians, not the artists, who are driving them.
During my MOBIUS Research Fellowship in Helsinki, I was not—as I am not in my day-to-day work—attached to an institutional or academic host, rather I was working from a guest atelier usually reserved for artists at HIAP (Helsinki International Artist Programme) on the former military island and defensive fort of Suomenlinna. I decided to try and approach my time in Helsinki and the phenomenon of ‘research in and through art’ from the perspective of the visual artist and the prism of living through the surprisingly active ecumenical summer break in the city. Although I did of course meet with curators and the programme directors of institutions, this seemed to rather be beside the point, and so most of the actors of Helsinki’s art scene that I met and spent time with were visual artists. They were the people who directly contributed to both local and international activity whilst being best placed to talk about and paint a picture of the past, current and potential future state of issues such as arts funding, opportunities for artists, approaches to making work and the decision to make their work in Helsinki— an often geographically isolated part of the global art world. These are all concerns I share being a native of the North East region of centralist England and continuing to practice there whilst increasingly developing projects and spending my time immersed in various cultures across Europe. The remarkable thing about research in and through art is that the making and the thinking go hand in hand. The phenomenon of research in art is nothing new. The idea of art-as-research flows from art itself, in particular from the conceptual art of the 60s onwards. Conceptual artists protest the view that art can be viewed in isolation from history and politics, and they assert that art is unquestionably perceptual. In the post-modern era, reflection and research are closely interwoven with artistic practice. In some cases, the research has become the work of art itself, subject matter and medium serving as an instrument in the research or ‘thought process’. Artists are increasingly positioning themselves in the societal and artistic field as researchers. My own research in Helsinki aimed to explore various points of departure for learning more about the art coming out of the city; the intention was to take inspiration from artists to undertake a critical reflection on my own practice, to study and be better able to promote awareness of artistic praxis. As Sarat Maharaj remarked at a symposium on research in art held as part of Manifesta 8 in 2010, ‘For research to be research it has to be debated in the public domain’. This leads me to a key finding early on in my
fellowship in the city: nature is never far away. Of course before undertaking my residency, I was acutely aware of great Finnish names such as Alvar Aalto and Marimekko and had an idea that Helsinki was an impressive and leading model of urban design and public space. However, I had not really understood just how ingrained in the lives of every Finn their land and public space really is, and of course this revealed much about the art and design famously exported from Finland, additionally opening up a whole new line of enquiry. MÉMOIRE DU PRÉSENT. REPRÉSENTATION DU PRÉSENT. OR, WHERE DOES COMMUNITY GROW?
NATURE IN HELSINKI’
Perhaps as a Northerner of a socially divided island, I feel very strongly that location is a key issue, and it’s something that is very important in the approach I have taken with the projects I have worked on and developed with artists across a multitude of disciplines and contexts. I feel that a large part of what I do requires a regular reexamination as to what it is that my role as a curator is. I don’t think that anyone really knows what a curator does; it is an indefinite and assimilated role. There is a constant re-writing of what a curator is and what their role is or could be—it is evolving, it is changing and it lacks definition. I think one of the jobs of a curator is to create and make a space for an artist to develop all sorts of relations in that space, which at the same time is a space that is always closing down. I think the other consistent job of the curator is to try to develop relationships between objects, artists and audiences, and to try and figure out how that changes and evolves. Very often for me, the central issue in terms of curating an exhibition is location. Where is it? What kind of space is it? Where do we find ourselves? Why does this work—or thing—travel well from one place to another? It is about understanding where you are and developing a relationship with the space, and the place, and with the people who come and see and spend time in that space and place. I’m greatly interested in artists who take responsibility of where they’re going and for what happens and what the implications of their work may be when they get there. Early on in my time in Helsinki, talking to artists I realized that a prevailing issue that was never far away from the agenda, albeit to varying degrees of concern, was the much publicised proposed arrival to the city of a Guggenheim franchise. The other thing that interested me was the relationship between artists, objects, architecture and space. In this instance, space tended to be wellplanned public space, full of nature, or just simply nature that had been left to its own devices and built around. I realised that what I wanted to research in Helsinki was just this; the proximity of these things that seem
so current and important in terms of today’s discourse around contemporary art and architectural practices, and yet here felt so instinctive and rooted. In terms of the Guggenheim proposal, this led me to look more closely at the existing infrastructures, culturally and architecturally, and wonder ‘what constitutes the community for whom this building is being built?’. The pairing of nearby and nature can strike people as a paradox. The word nature is usually reserved for areas that have been unaffected by human impact, that have trees and vegetation, and cover considerable expanse. What is nearby, for most people, most of the time, could hardly be described as lacking human impact and is unlikely to be expansive. The failure to recognise the satisfactions and benefits that the nearby-natural setting can offer has important consequences. It means that, all too often, landscaping within city planning is considered merely an optional “amenity”. Having green things nearby is undeniably pleasant but is often deemed less essential than all that is subsumed by “infrastructure”. Architectural monuments rise in the cityscape, but funds run out before the landscaping can be done. In Helsinki, there often seems to be a curious situation in which this doesn’t appear to be the case—at least from the perspective of a visitor, it could almost be seen as being the reversal. Whereas in the UK we scramble for an all too late injection of ‘pocket parks’ between and within countless private developments in order to pack our cities with gestural green space, Helsinki looks to be viewing the next step in its advancement as an international and European destination city. The development of a new and expensive Guggenheim building in an instinctively culturally rich city, where most talent is domestically developed, is understandably divisive. In fact, it becomes quickly evident that Finnish artists, designers, performers and filmmakers are largely working with a shared commitment, empathy and exploration of their surroundings, their urban, spiritual and physical make-up, their community. Of course, this is not to say that everyone is making work about landscape or architecture in Helsinki, but the influence of their natural and designed surroundings, the former loaded with folklore, on modern and contemporary cultural practices and vice versa is something that in the UK would be far-fetched at best. The support for art projects (to happen) in Finland is strong and admirable and clearly comes from a recent history in which artists and architects themselves are seen as fundamental to the makeup of a community, combined with a sense of pride. During my time in the city, Helsinki City Art Museum was closed and undergoing renovations, and at the
same time, Kiasma—the main Contemporary Art Museum in Finland—was readying itself for a six-monthlong renovation. This struck me as an impressive sign of commitment from the state. In 2014/15 to be delivering such a programme of work whilst also announcing an international architectural competition for a major new art museum gives an instant impression of dedication and support for contemporary art that is striking in its scale and ambition. I was interested in how this translated into grass-roots organisations, artist-run initiatives and supportive structures for artists in the city. I discovered that arts funding is generous in its entirety, with artists receiving ‘working grants’ for extended periods of up to five years. Initially this seems ostentatious, and it is. Through talking with curators, gallerists and artists, I understood the art system in Finland to work more or less on the basis of the artist being funded and in turn supporting the galleries through supplementing the cost of their exhibitions themselves. The exhibitions still carry the kudos that an institutional show of an artist’s work would carry anywhere, only here it is hard to draw a critical line—to understand when an artist has been supported and shown by a gallery for their quality of work, and where the artist simply has enough track record to command the financially limiting system of showing in the country’s many galleries and associations. It is of course exemplary to support artists to this extent: enabling relationships to grow and work, research and practice to flourish. There is a strong emphasis on production and in international export—and import—of curators. Organisations and advocacy bodies work hard to support the country’s creative talents and to communicate with the rest of the art world, and successfully so. But I can’t feel that the system of artists essentially often paying for exhibitions in institutions and numerous membership-supported ‘association’ galleries is the most successful way of creating a programme of current and globally topical artistic activity in the city itself. With museums presenting large-scale survey shows of headline artists, it is down to the surprisingly few spaces that would be recognised as ‘artist-run’ or ‘off-space’ initiatives to present a programme of contemporary art that gives room to an emerging and younger group of artists that feels more recognisable alongside the discourse and content of both the critical and market driven art world. Although the proposed Guggenheim drew many strong and often opposing viewpoints from the cultural actors of Helsinki and the foreign critics of the art and architecture press, something about the idea of introducing a new space for art does sit comfortably and idealistically within the Finnish approach. When successful, art gives (space, time, inspiration) to those who subsequently
witness it. A work of art is inexhaustible. It is always the same and never the same. Architecture is not art, but many of us wish it could be, and in Finland it feels as close as it ever will. Architecture is too tied up with the world. It is not the product of a single self but innumerable authors, each mediated by exterior forces (money, politics, function, nature…). Buildings must also be logical; it is the buildings’ job, literally, to abstract the human from nature, to place us in a room of our own making. Perhaps, as architecture becomes less rigid as it veers closer to the art object, it can become gift-like. A memorable piece of architecture creates real space, of course, but also new space in our memory. The space created by seeing something beautiful, interesting or strange. Great architecture is effusive, like art, though it often has to work much harder to give much less—or is perhaps just less noticed. And there is also the literal way in which a building is a gift. We give a building to the future, where we know it will be (for a while, at least). Those after us can come to it and see things we did well and the things we got wrong.
move beyond the individual participatory encounter of a momentous exhibition moment. This leads us to understand participation not as a relation or social encounter with artistic production, but as a socialised process necessary for art’s production. Such a shift in the perception of participation has to acknowledge the different duration-specific qualities of art as something driven by ideas of public time, rather than space, so that we can begin to understand the intricacies of artistic co-production within the rationale of progression, continuity and sustainability rather than discontinuity in a singular time and place. Such projects necessitate a shift in our consideration of the curator-producer from an individual focused on the unearthing or endorsement of an existing historical sense of place. Durational projects could be considered as ‘discursive exhibitions’ that evolve over time, where instead of prioritizing the moment of display, or the event of exhibition, they allow for openended, cumulative processes of engagement.
MAKE IT REAL
My period of research and time spent in Finland—talking with artists, producers, historians and inhabitants, looking at the many art programmes and support structures in place—has led me to believe that what is needed in contemporary art production is the potential of shortterm and durational projects to be realised as part of a longer-term incremental relationship with artists. These projects recognise the process through which small-scale audiences converge for a limited period of time around particular projects. This would require the rejection of the peripateticism and overproduction that has characterised art commissioning in Europe and the UK in the last decade, in favour of more committed, embedded practice for emerging curators, commissioners and artists, alongside commissioning and funding opportunities that are committed to longer lead-in times and fewer prescribed outcomes. While diverse in their objectives and outcomes, all the artists, designers and projects that I encountered— whether first hand or through historical presentations— have presented a longer-term view of the ways in which curators, artists and the public can respond to a specific situation by considering art as a co-operative production process that is neither autonomous nor over-regulated. By taking account of participation with and in art, as an evolving and longer-term accumulation of numerous positions, engagements and moments registered in what we account for as the artwork, we may be able to
Sam Watson, the Programme Director of CIRCA Projects in Newcastle Upon Tyne, partnered with HIAP – Helsinki International Artists Programme for a MOBIUS Fellowship in August–September, 2014. Through meetings with curators, programme directors of institutions, artist designers, performers and filmmakers, he deepened his understanding of Finnish contemporary art.
THREE YEARS OF MOBIUS FELLOWSHIP BETWEEN FINLAND, THE UNITED KINGDOM, AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
The MOBIUS Fellowship Program has offered its participants a unique opportunity to gain valuable international work experience through a multi-institutional model of peer-topeer learning. It has also created opportunities for long-lasting international cooperation. The plan for each participant has been unique: every fellow had his or her own goals that were matched with respective organisations’ plans and focus areas. This has made the whole rich and varied. Topical questions in the museum work formed the core of the MOBIUS fellowships organized by the Finnish Institute in London during the three-year pilot phase. Finnish participants of the programme travelling to the UK or Ireland wanted to learn more about the fields where they considered the two countries to be well ahead of Finland. In the UK, specifically, people were interested in such issues as engaging with audiences, working with communities, engaging and training volunteers, as well as educational projects and innovative exhibition work. Finnish participants were also keen to learn about organisational structures and cultures of the foreign museums alongside funding strategies, because the funding of museums in the UK and Ireland has been diminishing lately, in a similar way as in Finland. Thus, the museums have been forced to collect their financial support from multiple sources and to find new collaborative projects.
Claire Gould from the Helsinki Art Museum, who had her fellowship at the Manchester Art Gallery, describes the situation in the following way: Art museums in the UK must differentiate themselves to compete within the challenging funding environment. However, this has also led to common developments. Many have responded to the increased focus on quantitative targets by reducing income from admission and placing greater emphasis on visitor-focused services and commercial outlets, striving for visitor satisfaction to secure repeat visits.
Whether consequential or not, museums have opened themselves up to the voice and support of multiple stakeholders such as visitors of all ages, artists, volunteers, Friends, patrons, funding bodies, corporate partners, etc., reaching out not only to the mass of visitors and marginalized target groups, but also to those participating in programs (or financially), and those who are not. Museums strive to make visitors feel welcome, offering them ways to interact, take part in programs, and give feedback both during gallery visits and on social media.” It should be noted though that also the Irish and British participants learned a lot on Finnish museum and archive work. The learning and sharing worked in both directions. One of the popular focus areas amongst the selected MOBIUS Fellows was conservation and handling of artworks. In my experience, conservators tend to have good international networks because, in many cases, they have to compare their results with colleagues abroad. MOBIUS Fellows working with these subjects had the possibility to familiarise themselves with new methods and practices and to receive answers to many specific questions. Some of the areas that the fellows were working on have been among the focus areas of the Finnish Institute in London, such as contemporary art and design, as well as the accessibility of knowledge and the ways organisations open their collections to their audiences. The fellows working in these areas were mostly involved with the research or production of an exhibition or an event. The connections between Great Britain and Finland or Ireland and Finland were present on many levels, and in a couple of studies they were the focal point. I believe that, among other things, MOBIUS has broadened the understanding and network between these countries in an important way. This does not only concern the fellows but also all the people they met, and the communities and the organisations they learned to know. There have already been some initiatives for further collaboration
(Left and overleaf) During her MOBIUS Fellowship at the William Morris Gallery in London, UK in Fall 2015, Elisa Heikkilä of Finland’s National Board of Antiquities improved her knowledge in managing, storing, conserving and researching wallpaper collections.
between organisations, and I think the impact of this 3-year pilot phase of the programme will be felt in the coming years. The MOBIUS Fellowship Program in London has been extremely successful and all the participants have been grateful for the opportunity and for the new experiences. Also the partners involved have commented it in a highly positive way. However, there were some inconveniences, which in my opinion were due to the fact that we chose the fellows first and only after that discussed with the organizations. Sometimes the tasks weren’t established soundly enough at the beginning of the fellowship, or the role of the fellow in the organisation was not clear. As a result, the fellow was not able to use his or her skills to their fullest capacity. All the participants were keen to learn about the organizations they were working in and interested to have conversations with their new colleagues. This was not always possible because of the general lack of time of the hosting staff. The participants of the MOBIUS Fellowship Program have seen the fellowship as a useful part in their professional development; everybody felt that they had experienced something new. The fellowship opened up new horizons, as it also helped to analyse the home organisation from a new perspective. Becoming more international has been an important topic in Finnish universities and in the cultural sector for a long time. Many things have been done, but most of the funding is concentrated on research rather than on broadening professional skills. In the UK and Ireland, the reason for applying for the fellowship was perhaps not so much connected to the idea of becoming more international. Fellows told that they had learned a lot about the Nordic ways of working, the culture and the art field. All the three countries have their strengths and innovations. It is clear from the feedback we received that this programme was seen as a rare opportunity for professionals already advanced in their respective careers to learn and share knowledge in an innovative ambience. During 2014–2016 we supported altogether 24 fellows in the MOBIUS Programme. The biggest group, fourteen people, travelled from Finland to the UK; six people travelled from the UK to Finland; three from Finland to Ireland and one from Ireland to Finland. All in all, we collaborated with 39 partner organisations. Out of the twenty-four fellows, fourteen were working in museums in various positions from technicians and art conservators to producers, keepers, curators and directors. Four of the fellows were from other cultural organisations, namely a science centre, a library, an archive and a gallery, and finally there were six freelancers working mostly as curators.
Johanna Vakkari was the Head of Arts & Cultural Programme of the Finnish Institute in London in 2014–2016. She was planning and managing the MOBIUS Fellowship Program's London chapter during the program's pilot phase.
WHEN WORKING WITH THE YET TO BE DEFINED, ONE SHOULD ALSO ACCEPT THE POSSIBILITY OF FAILING.
The guiding principles of MOBIUS are collected in the Manual, pp. 16â€“22
MOBIUS NEW YORK New York based fellows were invited to participate in the program by the FCINY. Finnish participants were chosen via Open Calls organized by the FCINY. Fellows 2014–2016 Boshko Boskovic Mike Egan Johanna Hyrkäs Paavo Järvensivu Martti Kalliala Stefan Kalmár Taina Laaksonen Andrea Lipps Meri Louekari Anna Mikkola Jenni Nurmenniemi Suvi Saloniemi Markus Åström
BOSHKO BOSKOVIC Program Manager, Residency Unlimited, New York Partner: HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme Fellowship period: June 2014, January 2015 Focus: Boskovic familiarized himself with the Finnish contemporary art scene and the partnering organization’s operations. Boskovic’s working periods in Helsinki strengthened the reciprocal MOBIUS collaboration between HIAP, Helsinki and Residency Unlimited. Project: Boskovic curated an exhibition featuring both newly commissioned works by Finnish contemporary artists and existing works from select New York-based artists.
JOHANNA HYRKÄS Freelance artist and architect, Helsinki, Finland Partner: Better Farm, Redwood, New York Fellowship period: Fall 2015 Focus: Hyrkäs continued her research on off-the-grid living and alternative communal ways of living, through participating in daily activities of several intentional communities in Upstate New York for two months. Project: Hyrkäs interviewed members of each community she visited and spent time in, and conducted an audiovisual piece out of the material. She also sent an edition of the work to each of the communities she collaborated with.
MARTTI KALLIALA Berlin-based architect Partner: Van Alen Institute, New York Fellowship period: Fall 2014 Focus: Kalliala continued an ongoing research on techsecessionism, and familiarized himself with the working methods and structure of the partnering organization, Van Alen Institute. Project: Kalliala organized a symposium, featuring Andrea Crespo, Ed Keller and Geoff Manaugh, in collaboration with the Van Alen Institute, and produced a body of audiovisual work in collaboration with artist Daniel Keller. SUVI SALONIEMI Curator, Design Museum, Helsinki, Finland Partner: Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Fellowship period: Fall 2014 Focus: Saloniemi acted as a curatorial advisor for Cooper-Hewitt’s Beauty Triennial, and interviewed participating designers of the Triennial for the accompanying catalogue. Saloniemi’s fellowship strengthened the reciprocal MOBIUS collaboration between Cooper-Hewitt and Design Museum, Helsinki. Project: Saloniemi hosted a salon discussion An Evening with Design Art as part of Helsinki Design Week in September 2016, featuring gallerist Maria Foerlev, Etage Projects (DK), designer Kristoffer Sundin (SE) and designer Tuomas Markunpoika (NL/FI), all working with studio-produced design and craft. MARKUS ÅSTRÖM Curator, Sinne (Pro Artibus), Helsinki, Finland Partner: No Longer Empty, New York Fellowship period: Fall 2014 Focus: Åström strengthened his knowledge on public artwork commissioning and production, and familiarized himself with the partnering organization’s operations, and New York’s art scenes. Project: Åström curated a series of public artworks under the title Mirage to a garden center in Vantaa, Finland. The Project was on view from April to October 2016, featuring commissioned works from New Yorkbased Daniel Neumann and Juan Betancurth, and Helsinki-based Tanja Koponen.
PAAVO JÄRVENSIVU Independent writer and researcher, Helsinki, Finland Partner: The Amie and Tony James Gallery, The Graduate Center, City University of New York Fellowship period: Fall 2015 Focus: Järvensivu continued his research on postfossil fuel societies and familiarized himself with the partnering organization’s operations and New York’s cultural climate. Project: Järvensivu organized a discussion event Post Fossil Fuel Futures in collaboration with the James Gallery, featuring Beka Economopoulos of Not An Alternative and Ashley Dawson. STEFAN KALMÁR Director, Artists Space, New York Partner: Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Spring 2015 Focus: Kalmar traveled to Helsinki via MOBIUS Fellowship Program to do research on Touko Laaksonen aka Tom of Finland and to look for a partner for a touring Tom of Finland exhibition. Project: Kalmár’s MOBIUS Fellowship centered on Tom of Finland: The Pleasure of Play exhibition, which was on view at Artists Space during Summer 2015. TAINA LAAKSONEN Independent fashion designer, producer and educator, Tampere, Finland Partner: The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology, New York Fellowship period: Fall 2015 Focus: Laaksonen collaborated with the Museum at FIT to provide the museum her insight on the digitalization of fashion, and simultaneously learned about the museum’s structures and operations. Project: In collaboration with the museum’s staff, Laaksonen produced an online publication about the phenomenon of international fashion blogging. The online publication accompanied the MFIT exhibition Global Fashion Capitals.
ANDREA LIPPS Assistant Curator, Cooper-Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, New York Partner: Design Museum, Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Spring 2015 Focus: During her fellowship period in Helsinki, Lipps engaged herself with the local contemporary design scene and neighboring areas through numerous studio visits and participation in events. Furthermore Lipps’s fellowship period in Helsinki strengthened the reciprocal MOBIUS collaboration between Design Museum, Helsinki and Cooper-Hewitt. Project: Andrea Lipps hosted two Finnish designers, Kustaa Saksi and Tuomas Markunpoika, featured in the Cooper-Hewitt’s Beauty Triennial (which she co-curated) in a discussion event New Frontiers of Finnish Design at the Cooper-Hewitt in March 2016. ANNA MIKKOLA Berlin-based Artist-curator Partner: Artists Space, New York Fellowship period: Spring 2015 Focus: Mikkola’s focus was on artistic and curatorial research as Artists Space’s MOBIUS Fellow, and on familiarizing herself with New York’s art scenes and Artists Space’s operations and history. JENNI NURMENNIEMI Curator, HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme Partner: Residency Unlimited Fellowship period: Spring 2015 Focus: Nurmenniemi familiarized herself with New York’s art scenes and partnering organization’s operations through studio visits and attendance of public events. Nurmenniemi’s visit to New York strengthened the reciprocal MOBIUS collaboration between Residency Unlimited and HIAP, Helsinki. Project: Nurmenniemi curated an interdisciplinary event, Deep Time Séance, featuring Finnish and international contributors, at the Residency Unlimited.
2016 MIKE EGAN Artist, writer and managing member of Ramiken Crucible, New York Partner: Sinne, Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Fall 2016 Focus: Egan familiarized himself with the contemporary art scene in Helsinki through studio and gallery visits, and furthermore hosted public events at the Frame Contemporary Art Finland and SIC Helsinki. Project: Egan curated and organized the first US solo exhibition of Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja at the Ramiken Crucible Gallery on Lower East Side, New York in late 2016.
MERI LOUEKARI Architect, Helsinki City Planning Department, Finland Partner: Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (Columbia GSAPP), New York Fellowship period: Spring–Summer 2016 Focus: Louekari continued her research on waterfront development, using Helsinki and New York as comparative case studies. Project: Louekari organized two discussion events around the topic of waterfront development: the first one in New York in May 2015, followed by the Helsinki event in August 2015. The event at Columbia GSAPP in New York featured Louekari in discussion with Andrea Kahn (Design Content) and Mary Kimball (City of New York), moderated by Thaddeus Pawlowski (Columbia University & City of New York). The Helsinki event highlighted Mary Kimball.
MOBIUS ALLOWS YOU TO STEP OUTSIDE YOUR COMFORT ZONE.
Virve Miettinen contemplates on the customised nature of MOBIUS Fellowship on pp. 78â€“82
MOBIUS LONDON The fellows have been selected via Open Calls organized by the Finnish Institute in London. Fellows 2014–2016 Dobrawa Brach-Kaluchna Inga Fraser Claire Gould Hanna Hagmark-Cooper Elisa Heikkilä Satu Itkonen Tom Jeffreys Eriika Johansson Maria Koskijoki Inka Laine Mikaela Lostedt Virve Miettinen Sari Mäenpää Siukku Nurminen Tuomas Olkku Isa Päivinen Minna Rajaniemi Alex Rinsler Erja Salo Alison Spence Jonna Strandberg Ulla Teräs Vassiliki Tzanakou Sam Watson
2014 CLAIRE GOULD Curator, Helsinki Art Museum, Finland Partner: Manchester Art Gallery, UK Fellowship period: Sept–Nov 2014 Focus: to benchmark and increase knowledge of the museums’ best practices, such as communication with audiences, feedback, collaboration with patrons, friends and volunteers, and the methods of fundraising. Worked in the Manchester Galleries Development team. SATU ITKONEN Helsinki-based freelance-researcher and educator Partner: National Museums Liverpool, UK Fellowship period: Sept–Nov 2014 Focus: to increase knowledge of museum education and outreach projects, as well as share her own methods of training professionals in educational and care sectors. Worked as a member of educational and museum pedagogical team. ERIIKA JOHANSSON Researcher, Museum of Finnish Architecture, Helsinki Partner: Burrell Collection in Glasgow, UK Fellowship period: Oct–Dec 2014 Focus: To learn more about museum education and audience engagement. Aim to find new tools for encouraging audience participation and community learning. Worked in the Burrel Collection’s audience engaging team during the renewal period of the museum. MARIA KOSKIJOKI Director, Helinä Rautavaara Museum, Espoo, Finland Partner: Tyne & Wear Archives and Museum, Newcastle, UK Fellowship period: May–July 2014 Focus: to learn about strategies and practices of networking, collaboration and partnerships in museum work under tightening resources. Worked with the management team and midlevel staff, sharing experiences with more than 40 people. TUOMAS OLKKU Development Manager, HEUREKA – The Finnish Science Centre, Espoo, Finland Partner: Dublin Science Gallery in Ireland Fellowship period: Aug–Oct 2014 Focus: to learn more about strategies of connecting museum to surrounding society, e.g. university cooperation, and collaboration with different interest groups, as well as public engagement activities. Worked as a member of different teams, e.g. with the organising team of TEDxDublin. ERJA SALO Head of Education and Public Programmes, Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland Partner: National Media Museum in Bradford, UK Fellowship period: Sept–Nov 2014 Focus: to learn how to engage broader audiences and to build different kind of partnerships in the audience engagement work. During her research, Salo met and interviewed 30 museum and gallery professionals from 13 different museums and galleries in England and Scotland.
ALISON SPENCE Archivist, Cornwall Record Office in Truro, UK Partner: National Archives in Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Aug–Oct 2014 Focus: to investigate access to archives by the study of theoretical developments in archival description; and by learning about new initiatives in digitization and user engagement from archival colleagues in both Finland and Estonia. JONNA STRANDBERG Performing Arts Producer and Curator, Kiasma Theatre, Helsinki, Finland Partner: Whitworth Art Gallery in Manchester Fellowship period: Aug–Nov 2014 Focus: to help to plan and produce the upcoming reopening of the Whitworth Art Gallery, especially to curate the weekend programme for openings. Worked as a member of the re-opening team. SAM WATSON Programme Director, CIRCA Projects, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK Partner: HIAP – Helsinki International Artists Programme in Finland Fellowship period: Aug–Sep 2014 Focus: to explore various points of departure for learning more about the Finnish contemporary art, to study and be better able to promote awareness of artistic praxis. Meetings with curators, programme directors of institutions, artist designers, performers and filmmakers.
2015 INGA FRASER Assistant Curator, Modern British Art, Tate Britain, London, UK Partner: Ateneum Art Museum of the Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Aug–Sep 2015 Focus: research on Finnish and British art relationships in the modern era: how did national developments impact internationally? Studied the archives and collections at the Ateneum Art Museum. HANNA HAGMARK-COOPER Director, Åland Maritime Museum, Åland Islands in the Baltic Sea, Finland Partner: Manchester City Museums, UK Fellowship period: Oct–Dec 2015 Focus: to increase knowledge of curating and producing art exhibitions. Worked in Manchester City Museum with various exhibition projects. ELISA HEIKKILÄ Senior Researcher in Architectural Conservation, Department of Cultural Environment Protection at the Finland’s National Board of Antiquities, Helsinki Partner: William Morris Gallery in London, UK Fellowship period: Aug–Oct 2015 Focus: to improve knowledge in managing the wallpaper collection, storing, conservation and research, especially the connection between building restoration and documentation. Interviewed professionals working at the William Morris Gallery and at other important wallpaper-collections in the UK.
TOM JEFFREYS Freelance Writer, Editor, Curator, London, UK Partner: National Archives in Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Apr–Jul 2015 Focus: to increase knowledge in conservation, archiving, cataloguing and collection digitizing, and in particularly to analyse the tension between the prioritisation of public access and the conservation of valuable or fragile documents. Worked together with the museum staff sharing his expertise e.g. in communications strategy. SARI MÄENPÄÄ Keeper, Maritime Museum of Finland, Kotka Partner: Merseyside Maritime Museum in Liverpool, UK Fellowship period: Sep–Dec 2015 Focus: to learn how museum professionals in the UK use open data, and in which ways they bring their collections and expertise into the reach of the community. Worked as a researcher in order to find and digitize new material from Liverpool’s various collections to broaden the picture of the town’s maritime history. SIUKKU NURMINEN Senior Conservator, Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art of Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland Partner: Tate Britain, London, UK Fellowship period: Oct–Dec 2015 Focus: to learn about the best practices of Tate and to build a closer network between Kiasma and Tate. Worked as a member of the Tate conservation team with the loans at the Tate Britain and Tate Liverpool as well with various conservation projects. MINNA RAJANIEMI Art Conservator, Tampere Art Museum, Finland Partner: National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin Fellowship period: Apr–May 2015 Focus: to learn about long-term priority plans for conservation. Worked at the Department of Conservation in various projects, learning new methods. ALEX RINSLER Freelance Artist-curator, Manchester, UK Partner: Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art of Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Jun–Aug 2015 Focus: to learn about how Helsinki’s cultural institutions engage with their audiences. Helped to produce URBfestival, with the Kiasma Theatre team.
2016 DOBRAWA BRACH-KALUCHNA Freelance Exhibitions Manager and Events Coordinator, Dublin, Ireland Partner: Design museum, Helsinki, Finland Fellowship period: Feb–Mar 2016 Focus: An international survey for 37 design museums: Into the Future of Design Museums – Applied Arts and Design Museums International Benchmark Study. Worked closely with the director of the museum planning and realising the survey.
VIRVE MIETTINEN Participation Planner, Helsinki City Library , Finland Partner: British Library, London, UK Fellowship period: Aug–Dec 2016 Focus: research on the Finnish-British relationships at the British Library in order to open a digital gallery titled Tales of Two Countries as a part of the Finland 100-year Anniversary festivities. Worked as a member of the library team. ULLA TERÄS Project Manager, Curator, Helsinki City Museum, Finland Partner: Museum of London, UK Fellowship period: Sep–Dec 2016 Focus: to increase knowledge on the organizational structures and the organizational culture of the museums in the UK. Worked with different teams dealing with the transformation of the Museum of London, and in dialogue with the museum and its communities. INKA LAINE Curator, Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), Finland Partner: Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) in Dublin Fellowship period: Oct–Dec 2016 Focus: to learn more about the organisation of exhibition projects, such as collaboration between different professionals and timing of various phases of the project. Worked as a member of the exhibition team. MIKAELA LOSTEDT Gallery Manager and Curator, Helsinki Contemporary, Finland Partner: Royal Academy, London, UK Fellowship period: Oct–Dec 2016 Focus: to broaden networks in London and the UK, and increase knowledge of the British art field. Mapped possibilities to add more interventions of contemporary art to the programme of the Royal Academy. ISA PÄIVINEN Senior technician, Ateneum Art Museum of the Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki Partner: National Galleries Scotland and the National Museums Scotland Fellowship period: Oct–Nov 2016 Focus: to gain experience and knowledge of the best practices in art handling and to learn about processes of changing exhibitions. Worked in the art handling teams in the two museums in Edinburg and visited the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. VASSILIKI TZANAKOU Freelance-curator, London Partner: visiting programme planned in collaboration with the Finnish Institute in London and Frame Visual Arts Finland, Helsinki Fellowship period: March 2016 Focus: to increase knowledge of the Finnish contemporary art, especially the light art. Visited artists’ studios and discussed with experts of the Finnish art field.
WHAT I REALLY LIKED ABOUT MOBIUS WAS THE EXCELLENT, UNUSUAL BALANCE BETWEEN STRUCTURE AND FREEDOM.
Paavo Järvensivu contemplates on the benefits of participating in a tailored fellowship program on pp. 58–62
MOBIUS PARTNER ORGANIZATIONS Partnerships are instigated, organized and mediated by the Finnish Cultural Institute in New York (FCINY) and the Finnish Institute in London PARTNERS IN NEW YORK Artists Space Better Farm Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum Columbia GSAPP James Gallery / The Graduate Center, CUNY The Museum at Fashion Institute of Technology No Longer Empty Ramiken Crucible Residency Unlimited Van Alen Institute PARTNERS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM AND THE REPUBLIC OF IRELAND The British Library The Burrell Collection CIRCA Projects Cornwall Record Office in Truro, UK IMMA – Irish Museum of Modern Art Manchester Art Gallery Manchester City Museums Merseyside Maritime Museum Museum of London National Gallery of Ireland National Galleries of Scotland The National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, UK National Museums Liverpool National Museum of Scotland Royal Academy of Arts, London Science Gallery Dublin Tate Britain
Tate Tyne & Wear Archives and Museums The Whitworth William Morris Gallery PARTNERS IN FINLAND Design Museum, Helsinki EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art Finland’s National Board of Antiquities Finnish Museum of Photography The Finnish National Archives Service Finnish National Gallery Frame Contemporary Art Finland Helinä Rautavaara Ethnographic Museum Helsinki Art Museum Helsinki City Library Helsinki City Museum Helsinki Contemporary HEUREKA – The Finnish Science Centre HIAP – Helsinki International Artist Programme Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Maritime Museum of Finland, Kotka Museum of Finnish Architecture Mustarinda Sinne Tampere Art Museum
The MOBIUS Manual sheds light on the learnings from the first years of MOBIUS Fellowship Program. Alongside reflecting on the Program’s pilo...
Published on Nov 20, 2017
The MOBIUS Manual sheds light on the learnings from the first years of MOBIUS Fellowship Program. Alongside reflecting on the Program’s pilo...