The Finnish festival phenomenon Silence takes root in London in August. Silence London aims to bring along the easygoing attitude of the Northern lifestyle and some great performances.
The first Silence Festival was arranged eight years ago in the remote village of Kaukonen in Kittilä, Finnish Lapland. The festival got its name from the artistic core team’s desire to not make a fuss.
“The festival got started when the producer Joonas Martikainen and I went to meet Milla Magia, a friend of Joonas, who lives in Kaukonen. We were walking along a gravel road when we had this idea of a festival that would concentrate on walking in a leisurely manner and kicking pebbles”, reminisces Sakari Männistö, who was the festival’s artistic director until 2016.
At first, the people in Kaukonen laughed in the festival team’s faces. In the festival’s third year they finally got over their suspicions and came along to help. With support from the local community the festival was able to evolve further. In 2017 the festival won the Finnish State prize.
Mänistö hopes that the London festival could develop in a similar organic manner. Instead of focusing on attracting big crowds the festival strives for a long-lasting engagement with the local community in Hoxton, Männistö points out.
“The first festival in London is small and compact just for that reason. We want to get to know the place and the people. Silence is a location specific festival and we want to build a strong connection with the locals.”
The village of Kaukonen has 350 inhabitants, whereas London has a population of over 8,5 million. Regardless of the obvious size difference, Männistö thinks the two places have a lot in common
“Loneliness and feeling isolated can be a problem for many people in London too. In a big city, loneliness can even feel harsher than in a rural setting. But there are also many communities in both places, and in that sense London and Kaukonen are similar. Our London festival takes place in St. Mary’s Secret Garden in Hoxton, which has an active, close-knit community.”
Silence London features Finnish contemporary circus, music, dance and sound art. The one-day event is arranged by Hiljaisuus Association with the support of The Finnish Institute in London.
Silence London, 8.8. Hoxton Arches (Arch 402 Cremer St. E2 8HD) and St. Mary’s Secret Garden (50 Pearson Street E2 8EL). Free admission.
More about the Silence Festival in Kaukonen: www.hiljaisuusfestivaali.fi