Inside Outside Finland’s producer Sami Jahnukainen: “People have asked if these places actually exist”

Inside Outside Finland’s producer Sami Jahnukainen: “People have asked if these places actually exist”

Inside Outside Finland is a documentary virtual reality piece that presents Finnish Outsider art. Sami Jahnukainen produced the piece with his production company Donkey Hotel and Pertin Valinta Outsider art gallery in Helsinki. Inside Outside Finland was seen at Pertti’s Choice popup in London in August and will head to Dublin on 7th of September. In this interview Jahnukainen describes the production process.

How did you come up with the idea for Inside Outside Finland?

We got the idea at the opening of Pertin Valinta gallery and general store in April 2018. I have been working with the punk band Pertti Kurikan Nimipäivät for almost ten years in the form of documentary films and I’ve produced the Punk Syndrome films. When the band members retired and decided to become businessmen and gallerists we contemplated on what kind of collaboration to do next with Pertin Valinta’s Arts Manager Heini Merkkiniemi. My production company Donkey Hotel has been doing virtual reality pieces and 360-degree video production for a couple of years which is why it felt natural to make a VR piece of the Finnish Outsider art.

The piece presents four locations and six artists. How did they get chosen for the piece?

It was clear from the beginning that we wanted to record a performance by Kalevi Helvetti. Through the consultation of Minna Haveri and Finnish Outsider artists’s network Kettuki’s Päivi Lilja we got information about Finnish Outsider artists. We started looking for places that could be possible and interesting to capture by using 360-technic and I visited these places in May 2018. The sculpture park of Veijo Rönkkönen and the house of Enni Id were two of the places I visited. Their visuality and mysticism convinced me immediately. Minna and Päivi also suggested to reach out to the Autism Foundation Finland. Their artist Hanna Keynäs was chosen to be the artist of 2017 by Kettuki. When I went to the foundation’s arts studio to get to know Hanna I simultaneously met Riina Noro and Markku Tolvanen who were also making art at the studio. It looked dynamic, with all three artists working in the same space. I ended up making a quite straightforward recording that shows what it’s like to work in their studio.

You have made documentary films before. How did the VR production differ from that?

Most of the content is made with 360-video. The exception to filming with a normal video camera is that the whole crew and all the supplies must be hidden since the camera is filming all directions at once. You must think about the filming differently because you’re not working with only one screen and deciding what the viewer can see.

Writing a manuscript is important because you have to have an idea of what you would like to record. However, like we say when doing a documentary: the last script is made when editing. That’s when we know what we have filmed and what we can do with the material. 

Technically there is more afterwork in VR production because we have to edit the pictures differently. The structure for the film was formed with a game motor which requires special know-how and was made in collaboration with the game studio Ticca Oy. The music was created in collaboration with Lyhty’s (a Finnish association providing housing services, work activities and training for adults with learning disabilities) music workshop. The music in the piece is composed and performed by Kalle Salonen and Jutta Tahvanainen under the guidance of Hannu Pikkarainen. The music was inspired by the artists featured in the film’s material.

How has the piece been received?

Very well. People have been impressed by the worlds that they are taken into. People abroad have asked if these places actually exist and where they are located. Some people even want to visit Finland to see the places for themselves, which is the best kind of feedback.

The piece has been to New York and London and is heading to Dublin next. What’s in store after that?

The piece is in Dublin from 7th to 8th of September and in Brussels, at the European Parliament from 23rd to 27th of September. When we get new invitations, we’ll pack everything in our suitcases and hit the road.

There are still many Outsider artists and Outsider art locations in Finland that are really interesting, visual and amazing. We would like to document more Outsider art and raise awareness about its richness in the future.

Community Event for Equality, The MART Gallery, 190a Rathmines Road Lower, Rathmines, Dublin 6,, open Tuesday to Saturday, 1–6pm

Sami Jahnukainen is also one of the residents of Producers’ House, which is a pilot residency programme of the Finnish Institute in London.

Text: Kaisa Paavola Photo: Sami Jahnukainen


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