Helsinki, 18-22 February 2008
It was the first of our research trips to Stranger Festival workshops, designed to help young people across Europe make videos about themselves and their impressions of the world around them.
Everyone we met told us that the weather was uncommonly mild - a little frightening, and something that felt a touch irrelevant to us as we braved the snow and sea winds for our morning coffee at the museum cafe. The museum sits a hundred or so metres from the powerful-looking parliament building, and adjacent to a statue of war-era national figure Mannerheim. Across the other side of Kiasma is the headquarters of the largest national newspaper Helsingin Sanomat.
The workshop was run on the fifth floor of Kiasma. Around 15 participants spent the week making minute-long videos, assisted by the tireless Marissa Evers, Fernando Colombo, and Satu Juutilainen. Our job was to watch the workshops unfold, talk to the young people and artists, and place the process in the contexts of Finnish and European youth, the Stranger festival, and the broader research questions driving our project.
Talking to the young people in the workshops about their videos, the proximity of the museum to the two national landmarks felt significant. Whether the videos were making explicit links to politics or political issues or not, they were all excited by the collaborative aspect to the workshops and video making, and the way they could share ideas and perspectives with their peers. And they all felt that the ideas and feelings they were putting in to their videos count as social, participative acts.
The week really emphasised the importance of some of our initial questions for the project. In what ways does this kind of process help young people express themselves, and how might it help them connect with each other and with a broader range of people? What are the factors influencing young people’s ability to participate in the media in this way? How can this kind of participation help them tackle the kind of challenges, personal and collective, they face now and will do in the future? We started to think about the kind of environments and spaces that make this collaborative, collective process happen?
There's a short video of our trip here. We’ll be posting a couple more times about the people we met in Helsinki and our thoughts about what we saw there. We ended up with a huge amount of material and ideas to process - big thank yous to all the people we spent time with. Over in the bookmarks section of the project page there will be links to some of the events, festivals, websites and people we heard about.
We’re really keen for people to let us know their thoughts about the workshops and research; about Finland, Helsinki and Finnish youth; and about audio-visual expression. Do leave comments below, or email Celia or me.