Surprise has been a hallmark of the Festival’s main production, the IHME Project, from the beginning. The artist commissioned to produce a public artwork, the site and the nature of the work have varied from year to year. The IHME Project has been clay in the hands of hundreds of people, intimate sounds heard in a bustling railway station, and city tram passengers suddenly turned into a concert audience – to mention just three of the eight works so far.
In the future, the Festival concept’s built-in element of surprise will also extend to its programme of talks and films. The usual venue, Helsinki’s Old Student House, will be swapped for a new place to experience IHME. Collaboration on content will also become more diverse in the programmes of festivals to come.
From Old Student House to Gloria
“We listen carefully to our public and evaluate our activities critically every year,” IHME Executive Director Paula Toppila says. “We concluded that the whole Festival programme could be more amenable to change, both in terms of venue and programme planning. In the future, the talks-and-films segment will also be held in various locations, like the IHME Project itself.”
One new venue is in central Helsinki. “Next year will bring a two-day slate of activities at the Gloria Cultural Arena on April 7-8. Gloria’s central location and history as a cinema will suit the intense focus on film in next year’s festival programme. We are also glad to support Helsinki City Youth Department’s new endeavours, such as on-the-job learning – that, too, part of Gloria’s everyday work.”
The partnership is also welcomed by Gloria. “We at Gloria are pleased and proud that the IHME Festival has found our premises to be the most suitable,” says Gloria’s Producer Juha Oinonen. “IHME has found new ways to bring contemporary art to city residents, and the Festival’s engagement in exciting, participatory projects has gained our well-deserved admiration from year to year. Our collaboration with IHME and the Youth Department, which began with the IHME Workshops in 2012, is taking yet another a step forward, and we again expect to learn something new.”
Topical films and bold discussions
The Festival’s expert team has invited the Cologne film critic and curator Olaf Möller, who is well known to Aalto University film students, to curate the 2017 film programme. The spring’s Festival programme will include two thematic film series put together by Möller, which will expand upon the work and the themes of the new artwork commissioned from IHME Artist Theaster Gates.
“Putting together a film program for an event centered around the work of an artist who so far didn’t work so much with moving images is always a very special adventure. It means finding analogies and correlatives more than affinities elective or other. In the case of Theaster Gates this might mean: going for substances, raw materials, found objects; but also: following certain of his trains of thoughts, ideas, obsessions through in cinema, eg. his fascination for Japan. Which might add up to: looking at the different parts the house of cinema is build with,” says Möller.
The programme of talks will delve into timely topics, such as the refugee question and extremist movements. Perspectives on these themes will be gained through the thoughts of the German political theorist Hannah Arendt (1906-75).
The supplementary programme is being planned with researcher Julian Honkasalo. “Hannah Arendt examines complex political and ethical questions with a piercing clarity. Her essayist style makes her writings easy to approach. Today, particularly the Syrian war, the Palestinian diaspora as well as the rise of the European extreme right and neo-fascism make Arendt’s works topical. For those new to Arendt’s thinking, I would recommend The Origins of Totalitarianism and the chapter ‘The Decline of the Nation State and the End of The Rights of Man’ in particular,” Honkasalo says.
The entire 2017 Festival programme will be announced at the beginning of February.