Already a month ago I was in Helsinki, Finland and finally now in the opportunity to write something about this one-week adventure. The reason to be there was quite simple; FRAME issued a call for proposals in the summer for young curators to discover the local art scene. Being very unfamiliar with that ‘scene’ I thought it would be a nice opportunity to use. That summer I read an article about the “middle-school”. The middle school is a pedagogical model ‘developed’ by Errki Aho that tries to erase borders on class, race and learning or other disabilities by keeping children to the age of sixteen in the same class on school. This modelhoosing a completely different approach of for example the Dutch model that tries to separate and concentrate on the given problems. The article seemed a good reason to discover the background of this, including a connected discourse in art.

Arriving in clouds full of water where we here, in The Netherlands should be jealous about. Completely wet I met some people of FRAME that gave me the key of a beautiful appartment at Suomenlina, an old fortress on an islands that mainly serves as a tourist place and holds a naval academy, but you can live there also, normally. Depressive now, but with some imagination one of the most romanticly set places to live. Advantage: everyday a ferrytrip of 15 minutes to the centre of Helsinki.

Before my arrival I was in contact with Ahmet and Pilvi, both of them quite experienced with what happens in Helsinki and already living in Amsterdam for a while now. They provided me with lots of helpful contacts. One of those contacts are Laura Wesamaa and Alma Heikkilä who I met in old Russian influence atmosphere, bar Moscova. Laura and Alma are involved in a gallery run by themselves and some ten others. Being on of the rare artist-run galleries in town and freshly started when I arrived, they organised an alternative independance day celebration. You have to know that this independence day is a very very serious thing to celebrate in Finland.

On the 6th December you are supposed to be inside, light a candle and watch the television parade of Finnish proud in the form of political theatre. It’s a mix of fashion, politics, routine and nostalgia. It’s sensitive, it’s serious and you should definitely not organise something. Nobody will show up. The gallery wants to be an experimental platform for artist that do not have other places to exhibit or would lik eto think of other ways to exhibit. It places itself not in the commercial market, but in social engaged activities. It becomes a place not only for the individual artist but is strongly connected to a certain degree of group feeling. Exactly that feeling, as in a more Western-European surroundings, seems also to be present here. The need to organise something that goes beyond individual practice.

FRAME gave a nice opportunity to quickly discover Helsinki and its activities concerning young artist. As a recap you could say that activities here mainly are generally well thought over, small scaled and quickly known in small ‘scene’ that exists. Politically uncorrect you could notice that multicultural society never happened here, could this be a reason that a concept like the middleschool could have survived here? And will it in the future now a more complex society is at the Finnish doorstep? How will the artist react? Best hot chocolate at Cafe Java.

Worth a check: Karri Kuoppala, John Philip Mäkinen, Jani Ruscica, Pilvi Takala.