IHME Workshops: Projects on display

Hear and There+ communal eventHear and There+ communal event at the Kipinä Youth Center. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

The IHME workshops, jointly produced by IHME and the City of Helsinki Youth Department, are run by artists, but carried out by the youths themselves. The young people have also been able to show their projects either temporarily in urban space or more permanently in places where people can still view the works after the projects have ended.

The “traffic signs” made under Otto Karvonen’s guidance were fixed to lampposts for a couple of months, and the results of Kari Cavén’s object-identification workshops toured three museums. Currently permanently on display are the collage made in Sasha Huber’s IHME Re-Action workshops in winter 2014 and the sound guide created this year in Eero Yli-Vakkuri’s Hear and There+ radio workshops.

Sasha Huber’s IHME Re-Action: “We are here”

The words “We are here” are written in staples on wooden boards. The “we” refers to the young people, whose embroidered faces frame this declaration. The work on display at Pohjois-Haaga station is what remains of an encounter in January and February of 2014, when the artist Sasha Huber’s IHME Re-Action workshops brought together young people from the area. In the stapling and embroidering workshops at Kannelmäki Youth Centre participants not only got to know about new techniques, but also each other.

When the workshops were starting, shooting of the IHME-commissioned film, Yael Bartana’s True Finn – tosi suomalainen, had just ended. Bartana invited Finns from various backgrounds to reconsider national identity. Huber, too, has long been interested in questions of identity. In her workshops she wanted to give young people a chance to work together and get to know new people: “It is important that people can meet face to face.”

The workshops were staged as part of the RuutiBudjetti participatory-budgeting project, in which young people themselves got to decide how funds allocated for leisure activities would be used. “The young people of the Haaga-Kaarela district, for instance, hoped to make the station area more pleasant and to make young people’s art part of the cityscape,” says Head of Cultural Youth Work at the City of Helsinki Youth Department Ulla Laurio.

The work made in the IHME Re-Action youth workshops is permanently on display at Pohjois-Haaga railway station. See Sasha Huber’s presentation of the project here and the participants’ documentation of the project here!

Eero Yli-Vakkuri’s Hear and There+

This winter, the artist Eero Yli-Vakkuri’s Hear and There+ radio workshop collected East-Helsinki immigrant families’ memories of the sounds of the cities that they left behind and played them in parallel with the current soundscape. Both young people and their parents participated. The interviews and recordings provided the basis for a sound guide to the Helsinki of the future.

Once again this year, the project’s starting point was the IHME Project. Kateřina Šedá’s work brought buskers to Helsinki’s trams, which prompted Yli-Vakkuri to think about public space as an aural environment. “The city is subject to visual control, it is hard to get your own pictures or texts seen. But the soundscape is a kind of shared space, which all citizens can influence,” is how Yli-Vakkuri explains the situation.

When people talk about what they hear during the day, they inadvertently shed light on intimate aspects of life,” he continues. Yli-Vakkuri is very pleased that the rapper Hassan Maikal, aka Bizzyiam, was hired for the workgroup, not only helping with the recording and interviews, but also acting as “cultural interpreter” between the artist and the interviewees. “When young people act together with other young people, the results are better than without their peers. Guided by Maikal the workgroup also visited, for example, the Somali community’s teahouses at the Puhos shopping centre,” Yli-Vakkuri says. “Even though I had read that there is a large Somali-heritage community in East Helsinki, it was only by visiting teahouses that I got a sense of the culture that is emerging in Helsinki. We were given a positive reception, and the project’s producer Jonna Kalliomäki was also welcome.”

“I remember black-and-white stickers from the 1990s, such as ‘Everyone different, everyone equal’, which you could stick onto satchels and desks to acknowledge the tensions generated by the nascent multiculturalism. By avoiding dealing with the issues an impression was created that we were somehow world citizens. In fact, other people’s bodies and viewpoints were ignored,” Yli-Vakkuri says.

Now, the interviews opened up new viewpoints, for instance, on urban culture. “Hewida’s story about Cairo’s food home-delivery services stuck in my mind,” the artist says. “In Cairo people can order milk and bread from farms, and, during the day, building caretakers make food deliveries to customers. The 4000-year-old food culture is way ahead of contemporary Helsinki, and places home-delivery startups and local-food co-operatives onto a scale with deeper roots.”

You can listen to the Hear and There+ sound guide at the Kipinä Youth Centre in the Itis shopping centre and at Kallahti Youth Centre during opening hours. Eero Yli-Vakkuri’s presentation of the project is on IHME’s YouTube channel (in Finnish). His and Maikal’s visit to Radio Helsinki’s Itä kuuluu programme and excerpts from the sound guide can be heard here (in Finnish).

Yli-Vakkuri’s parallel project Kutsu (The Call) is based on the call to prayer as part of the cityscape.

The partnership projects between IHME and the City of Helsinki Youth Department are part of IHME School, which comprises the Festival’s art-education programme: long-term partnership projects, school visits to the IHME Project, IHME Tasks, the Our IHME event for teachers, and the workshops running during the IHME Days.