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Contemporary Finnish artwork |© Ilkka Jukarainen / Flickr
Contemporary Finnish artwork |© Ilkka Jukarainen / Flickr
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Creatives to Look Out For in Finland's IHME Contemporary Art Festival

Picture of Jessica Wood
Updated: 23 March 2017
The IHME Contemporary Art Festival is being held from April 5th to 29th, 2017 in various locations throughout Helsinki and offers some of the most diverse and fascinating artists from around the world. In Finland’s centenary year, some of the main themes and discussions will be on global diversity and cultural appropriation. These are just a few of the best creatives to look out for at this year’s festival.

Theaster Gates

You will find Chicago artist Theaster Gate’s name appearing a lot on this year’s festival program. This is because his film project The Black Charismatic, made with Chicago-based musicians The Black Monks of Mississippi, is premiering at the festival and will have an installation at the Finland Salvation Army Temple for the entire run of the festival. There will also be various discussions and presentations about his wide variety of work.

Theaster Gates at the Cultural Olympiad conference/ Andy Miah/ Flickr
Theaster Gates at the Cultural Olympiad conference | © Andy Miah / Flickr

Rowan Lear

Artist, writer, and lecturer Rowan Lear is the co-director of the Bristol Biennial festival in Bristol, England and has worked for multiple arts organizations throughout the country. At IHME, she will be giving a keynote speech titled Artificial Joy: Arts Participation in the Age of Social Media at the Gloria Cultural Arena which will discuss some of her main interests, art, and the history of technology. You can see the wide range of her artwork and writing on her website.

Deborah Willis

Professor Deborah Willis is a historian, curator, and photographer specializing in African American culture and photography. As such, she has held positions at numerous arts institutions, including the Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Among her many honors and awards, she was named by American Photography magazine as one of the “100 most important people in photography.” You can see some examples of her photography on her personal website and portfolio.

Dr. Deborah Willis/ Vimeo
Dr. Deborah Willis | © Vimeo

Matti Aikio

Aikio is a truly multifaceted and fascinating Finnish artist. Originating from a Sami village in northern Finland and descending from ancient reindeer herders—a practice he still participates in today—he now works as a visual artist working in photography and video. He also sculpts, creates sound art, and works as a DJ, a testament to how artists in the 21st century frequently require multiple skills. Many of his works center on the theme of nomadism, reflecting his heritage. At IHME, he will be one of many speakers discussing the theme of cultural appropriation.

Matti Aikio's work often reflects the struggles of the Sami people/ Matti Aikio/ Flickr
Matti Aikio’s work often reflects the struggles of the Sami people | © Matti Aikio / Flickr

Chris Dercon

Belgian art historian and documentary filmmaker Chris Dercon’s most prestigious past position was director of the Tate Modern gallery in London. He has curated multiple art exhibitions and published or contributed to numerous arts publications as well. It is only fitting that he will be part of IHME’s What is Art For discussion.

Edgar Honetschläger

Honetschläger is an Austrian artist, filmmaker, and photographer who also works in multiple mediums. He has traveled extensively, especially in Japan, and now divides his time between Vienna and Tokyo. His work most commonly discusses the themes of individualism and cultural difference, one of the themes of this year’s festival, and on his website he stresses that “diversity is necessity.”

Norbert Pfaffenbichler

Pfaffenbichler is often regarded as a pioneer of experimental film in his home country of Austria, often using abstract art in his movies, and is also a visual artist and curator. His work has already had some exposure within Finland when it was shown at the Tampere International Short Film Festival.

Johanna Vehkoo

Finnish journalist and non-fiction author Johanna Vehkoo often investigates and discusses feminist issues and misinformation in the Finnish mainstream media. One of her recent credits is forming the Huhumylly, or “rumour mill” which looks at rumors spread about asylum seekers in Finland. This is why she will be giving a talk entitled A Journalist’s Viewpoint: What are We Allowed to Talk about, Where and When?

You can view the full schedule of events, book tickets, and find out more about these artists and more at the IHME Festival’s website. If you are visiting Helsinki this April, you will be sure to find something at the festival that is culturally and artistically stimulating.