Curatorial Statement 2017

It’s difficult to walk for ten minutes in Finland, in any direction, and not encounter a lake. Of course that’s an exaggeration and it’s entirely possible to avoid a shoreline, but the country’s romanticized topography as a land of lakes and islands isn’t entirely fictional either; a flight into any Finnish airport reveals just that, as water gives way to land, in a series of such complex and detailed archipelagos it’s hard to distinguish between the two. Natural water is dynamic in Finland, a dramatic temperature range sees to that, and it shifts in equally dramatic fashion – liquid to (very) solid to liquid – in the course of a year, creating, in winter, a temporary increased surface area to the country strong enough to park cars and light fires upon.

It’s that ability to change state, and to change our perception of the world that began to fascinate us as we built a programme of projects for the 2017 ANTI Festival around water. This year we’ve partnered with Our Water-Conscious Land, a project that proposes Finland, in its centenary year, should work as a global advocate for clean water and its preservation and conservation.

So, we thought about water and leisure, travel and exploration, about trade, industry and market forces, fresh water, salt water, grey water and its purification and treatment on domestic and industrial scales. We thought about the majority of the Earth’s surface also being the most abundant substance in the human body. And we thought about boarders, nationality, immigration, migration and displacement; daily events in the world’s oceans ask this of all us with an urgency not experienced for many years.

Across the spring we’ve been working with the University of Eastern Finland on their New Start Finland! research project where ANTI Festival is contributing with a community project led by artist Ernest Truely. In this project we’re working with young people who have recently been granted asylum in Finland, along with young Finns, on playfully creative responses to migration and nationhood.

The political and the poetic became the phrase that we returned to, offering a framework we invited artists around the world to respond to. This year we returned to the process of holding an open-call for proposals with new energy; anyone, regardless of experience or reputation, can apply to present work in the festival; we received 350 proposals from some 50 different countries and we programmed the majority of the festival from this remarkable pool of responses.

We have other work happening in and around the festival; we’ll be hosting our second Future DiverCities Lab in the week preceding the festival – here four international artists will be exploring how digital technologies can augment socially engaged arts practices; and Terike Haapoja, the 2016 winner of the ANTI Festival international Prize for Live Art will present her new work commissioned by the award, and of course we’ll hold the ceremony to announce the 2017 recipient of what has quickly become one of the world’s most
exciting cultural prizes.

It’s with real excitement we invite you to discover ANTI Festival 2017 with us, as projects appear around the city in response to the place of water in our lives. Let’s hope it doesn’t rain.

Johanna Tuukkanen & Gregg Whelan