The three chosen projects are: Growing Up Radical?, Free Movement and In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun. They all provide their unique angle on this year’s theme of borders and free movement. Total of 52 applications were received by the deadline.
“We were delighted with the range and number of applications in fields of both social and arts projects. Many of them would have been feasible, which shows the importance and effectiveness of Open Call as a method,” says director of the Finnish Institute in London, Emilie Gardberg.
Growing Up Radical? is an international project led by experts from several different fields of study. According to the project’s spokesperson Pia-Maria Niemi, Ph.D., they will bring together scholars from the University Helsinki and the University of Oxford for a bilateral mini-conference on the role of education in addressing societal polarization:
“Our conference is part of a larger study project that examines the role of educational institutions in guiding young people’s worldview construction. The project seeks to discuss how school education could contribute to addressing the societal tensions that may lead to the development of extremist worldviews and how it could ensure equal opportunities for positive identity construction for all students, both nationally and internationally.”
The project aims to answer questions on what the educational institutions’ role is and can be in preventing extremist views.
“We also attempt to find a way to establish the school as a safe place for every student to question and discuss different values. This information will then be applied in teacher training,” says Niemi.
The workgroup of the Free Movement project consists of Jan-Erik Andersson, a visual- and performance artist from Finland, American artist Eileen Hutton who is now based in Ireland and Robert Powell, a writer and poet from the UK. Their performance type project will take place on a bridge on the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and seeks to address the current and problematic question of borders and free movement.
The group wants to work together with the local people and cross borders between people and art forms, says Andersson.
“We would also like to include an Irish dancer and maybe a musician into the project. Working across borders is still not very common. The project will be filmed into a video that will be available to watch on YouTube/Vimeo.”
Bridges have been an area of interest for Powell and Andersson for a long time.
“We’ve both made projects in Turku on the River Aura, for example. In the beginning we approached the themes by looking at maps and trying to find bridges that crossed the border of two countries. That’s how we found the bridges over the River Finn and the River Foyle. Birds, insects and other animals cross borders in a totally different way than humans and there’s a lot of symbolism attached to rivers and bridges. This performance type project comes from these themes.”
In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun by artist Juan delGado examines the relationship between the causes of climate change and displacement.
The project is inspired by Finnish Sami poet Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s poetry and follows Syrian refugee Khaled Alesmael on his travels through the Arctic Sápmi land. Together with his Sami hosts he discusses their shared concerns of identity, belonging and external threat. The Sámi people are the only indigenous people of Northern Europe and they have traditionally inhabited vast areas across borders in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.
“I am happy and thankful to the Finnish Institute in London for this opportunity to go forward with my project. I’ll start by preparing trips to Enontekiö, Soppero and Norrbotten where I will examine the concepts of free movement and identity”, says delGado.
The aim of the project project is to create a multiple screen installation, a documentary, and a web-documentary. They will be exhibited in the spring of 2020.
“In the Shadow of the Midnight Sun will bring forth discourse regarding cultural identity and free movement as well as the unexpected way in which cultural and sociopolitical circumstances change in Europe.”
The Finnish Institute in London will report on the projects on the website www.fininst.uk and on our social media channels.
Text: Camilla Schleutker & Essi Miettunen Photo: Robert Seger