Cover story Misc

No pain, no gain

Ink on your skin. Long ago, tattoos stopped being a taboo. They are no longer a sign of a criminal, a tough biker or a sailor. This body art went mainstream and nowadays it is common to see a pop teenage girl on the dance floor with a tribal tattoo in her lower back or a computer geek with the Linux penguin on his shoulder.

In Helsinki there are dozens of tattoo parlours and studios. Many of them are located in the areas of Punavuori, Kamppi and Kallio. The selection is diverse and vast, but so is the demand. It can take some weeks to get an appointment with the most popular tattooists, especially in summer. Anton, of Legacy Tattoo believes that “there are too many tattoo artists in Helsinki and that decreases the overall quality”. In his opinion, “some of the tattooists are world class, but people tend to go to the cheapest places, so there are too much mediocre work done”. However, Rosti and Juho of Vida Loca have a very different opinion. “It’s good to have competition”, they say, “it’s good for the business and it forces you to improve”.

Pin-up girls, skulls, flames, hearts… Many tattoo artists are fond of the traditional and colourful designs. Nevertheless, they will make any custom design: tribal, Chinese characters, the silhouette of your idol, the Finnish lion. Anything is possible. Jykä, of Spider’s Tattoo, says that a popular tattoo nowadays is HIM’s heartagram: “there are many girls visiting Helsinki, especially from Germany and Australia, that want to have it”. A peculiar souvenir, indeed.

It is also interesting to see the areas where people want to have tattoos. They range from the traditional tattoo on the arm to the most intimate areas. But sometimes not every centimetre of skin is suitable: “some people have impossible ideas”, Anton explains, “like a tattoo on the sole of the foot. I have to say no then. It’s a stupid place because it will be very painful and the ink will wear off after some months.” Artists prefer to tattoo the usual places: arms, legs, and back. Rosti reckons that some areas are not very pleasant, like the “ribs and chest, which can be a very painful”.

A tattoo must hurt
Pain is a big part of the tattoo culture. Many will argue that there is no tattoo without pain. In the old days the artists would knock the costumer out if they would here some complaints. But nowadays, with tattoos being so popular, everyone wants to suffer as little as possible. Anaesthetic lotions are sold and accepted, which some artists are not so happy about. “I use to tease my costumers about it”, admits Anton, “I’d say that I don’t tattoo anyone who has used the lotion. However, I must say that when I got my tattoo on the back, after 30 hours, I started using the lotion myself.”

The learning process for a tattoo artist is a long and lasts several years. There is no tattoo school, so the artists are usually self-taught and complete their training as an apprentice with an experience tattooist. “I used to practice with pig’s skin”, Jykä recalls, “but that is a little bit different”. For Anton, however, there was no other guinea pig than himself: “the first tattoo I did it was on myself. It was really bad. Then Kristian took me on as an apprentice here at Legacy. It took three or four years of work until I was happy with my tattoos. Still I can improve some details”.

In spite of the bikes and the rock, the life of a tattoo artist is not as glamorous as it might look. Artists recognize that even though they love it, it can be a very demanding job. “I get very anxious before a big project, like sleeves (a tattoo, or a collection of smaller tattoos, that covers a person's entire arm), I can hardly sleep”, Anton says. “Some days, when I get home, my eyes hurt, my hands hurt and I have to start drawing the next design. Luckily this year I will have a one week holiday”.

Cover story Misc

An ecological performance

Relativity is a performance that combines three different art disciplines to create something new, unique, improvised and unexpected. Electronic music, video and dance are the ingredients. But Relativity is not just an art experiment: images, sound and movement reflect the relationship between nature and mankind.

Created and performed by Italians Egle Oddo (installation and video) and Giorgio Convertito (dance and choreography), and German Finnish Marko Timlin (sound and music), this show tries to bring the audience’s attention to environmental problems. “Without any political affiliations or intentions”, explains Egle, “we want to stress that the root of the problem is our attitude towards nature. Mankind wants to dominate nature, eliminate its annoyances, destroy it or save it as it pleases. This is an artificial idea. We are part of nature and with our current attitude we are just contaminating the conditions for life.” It is a dark concept that affirms the power of nature to regenerates itself, even mankind: “Nature recycles us perfectly when we are dead”, Egle reminds us.

{mosimage}This idea is the basis for the narrative of the piece. Each artist evolves into a character: Egle is The Reality, Marko is The Wind, and Giorgio, Nature. However, in Relativity there is no dialogue and improvisation is a big part of the show. The performance is presented as an unexplored path: “We know where we start and where we are going to finish. We throw some stones to guide our way, but we don’t know how we will go from one stone to the next”, states the Italian dancer. For Marko, improvisation is the reason why the performance is so exciting: “When everything is planned, one might achieve perfection, but with improvisation one can achieve magic and that is even better than perfection.”

Each discipline complements the others. The electronic music really adds to the live performance. “Sometimes it can be boring to see a guy on stage with a laptop like he would be writing emails”, admits Marko, “but with the addition of dance and video, the experience can be fascinating”. Some of the images that Egle will display have been shot in the junkyard of Ämmässuo in Espoo and show the power of nature to recycle itself.

The trio has worked on Relativity since January. There will be only four performances and the group hopes that the audience not only becomes aware of environmental problems, but that it also starts to be active, so a solution can be reached in the future.


24.5 – 27.5

Universum, Perämiehenkatu 13, Helsinki


Photos by Ossi Kajas 

Interviews Misc

Four decades of provocation

You were born in a small countryside town, Somero. How was it to grow up there?
During my first ten years I was often sick, and because of that my mother and I used to visit Helsinki very often. So I got a taste of the big city quite early. About my Somero years, I appreciate mostly my school time. Our headmaster was an exceptional person. He commanded fifteen languages, even though he claimed he could only speak Esperanto and Finnish. And that’s why Esperanto was compulsory in our school. Five years after the headmaster retired, the teaching Esperanto disappeared from Somero schools. It’s a pity because if Somero could have boasted of something, it would have been schoolboys speaking Esperanto. I have even written some songs in Esperanto, but I’m not an Esperantist: they’re so keen on their hobby, and that disturbs me a little bit.

At least two other very famous musicians have also come from Somero.

Right. Unto Mononen, the tango composer. I played in his orchestra. I got to know him when I was a student in Helsinki. I started to be interested in Finnish tango and in tangos by Mononen and he was so popular at the time. And the other one is Rauli “Badding” Somerjoki. We started collaborating and he sang on some of my albums. Then he asked me to produce his own rock single, which I did, and a rock album. Two weeks after releasing ‘Fiilaten ja höyläten’, it went to no.1 in the Finnish chart, where it stayed almost a year.

A year of turning point

It seems that 1966 was a very important year; a sort of turning point.
It was the important year of my provocations! At last I succeeded in provoking the whole of Finland by singing those sexual manuals at the Jyväskylä Summer Cultural Festival. This actually helped very much later when I wanted to do something else, and I started to sing classical music. I sang a song by Franz Schubert live on the Finnish TV: a shock. And it was exactly what I meant it to be.
Then I met the poet Markku Into and we started the Suomen Talvisota project. And in October that same year I was at the Turku Youth Festival, singing Wittgenstein’s “Tractatus”. The sixties are quite easy to remember but already the seventies are much more difficult: I was doing so many different things at the same time. Films, music, writing…

What was the common denominator?
The wish to provoke, of course.

So are you still into provoking the audience?
Of course. I provoke in a totally different way than earlier. I provoke my own friends and people my age. In the 60s I provoked old people and in the 21st century I still provoke old people. These are the same people who grew up with my provocations, and are themselves often quite good at provoking too. But then most of them are nowadays quite old fashioned and they think in an old fashioned, conservative way. I can provoke in many ways.

{mosimage}Stories of detectives and drunkards

You wrote two books whose titles sound quite curious: Etsivätoimisto Andrejev & Milton (Detective Agency Andreyev & Milton) and Baarien Mies (The Beer Bar Man).
The first is a detective story. I wrote it with Markku Into and it was ‘built’ in a very strange way: in the epistolary style. We were making fun of detective novels, and our own is very odd indeed. Suffice it to say that there’s no ending whatsoever.
Baarien mies has an interesting origin. In 1984 it was still forbidden to perform pop music during Easter time. I was in Sotkamo and could not perform. I stayed there some days and visited a bar several times. I became interested in this bar and the ‘way of life’ connected to it. I thought I would suggest the subject to a real sociologist. Then I thought he or she would never get enough money to travel around Finland and no scholarship would be available for such a drinking subject, so I chose myself to be the writer. My wife was with me: she was my driver but also my ‘memory’, as from time to time she had to remind me about the place and what had happened the evening before as I had drunk so much.

How are you planning to shock your audiences at the moment?
The first album in collaboration with DJ Sane will be released in May. It took three years as the material is so uncommercial: no dance, no pop, no rock. But it has very strong and heavy rhythms and sounds like it is from the rock and ambient world but not precisely from that. But I’ve other plans: the Swedish novel. And I’m composing a chamber music work about the Swedish domination that finished in 1909. It’s been commissioned for next year, 2008, so that it anticipates the centennial.

For a detailed biography of M.A. Numminen visit

M.A. Numminen will perform in Helsinki on 22 May at the Design Museum, Korkeavuorenkatu 23, Helsinki

Cover story Misc

From the ashes of the lost empire

After following the events concerning a certain bronze Russian soldier, I gave myself the task of developing an observer’s approach to the efforts being made to build a new Estonia, where past and present can live together in peace. With this in mind, I decided to join the MA students of Urban Studies at the Estonian Academic of Arts on a one-day trip to the forgotten city of Paldiski, on the peninsula of Pakri. As a part of their curriculum, the students are doing a project on urban management in Paldiski. The idea is to offer four possible scenarios in which architecture could help in the redevelopment of the area. 

Approximately 50 km from Tallinn, Paldiski is an important Baltic Sea port located in south-western Estonia. Its history goes back 300 years, when the Russian Tsar Peter 1st started construction of a port. Paldiski’s status as a port has since dictated its entire destiny.  

During the 20th century, the Soviets began moving the local population away from the town in order to establish a navel base. 16,000 men of nine different Soviet army units were located in the city and its vicinity. Paldiski’s status as port reached its summit when a training centre for nuclear submarines was opened in 1968. The city then became a no-go area, where the presence of non-soviet military was forbidden. The city remained closed until 30 August 1994, when the last Soviet warship left.  

{mosimage}Welcome to hell
At 9:04 am a small bus left the Estonian Academy of Arts, located in Tallinn’s city centre. Three students, the leader of the project, a bus driver and myself were the participants of the expedition. After one hour of travel, we arrived in Paldiski. On the outskirts of the city some ruins began to appear. Towards the centre, the landscape changed: colourful soviet apartments, which somehow looked out of place for such a small city.

Our first point of call was to the northern point of the peninsula, were the limestone cliffs and the lighthouse are located. There the visitor can find about eight windmills that are part of the state’s efforts to produce renewable energy. When returning back to the centre and seeing the town by foot, I realized that the ruins and empty buildings are everywhere. Images of inhabited homes with a ghost neighbour are common. 

We were then led to a meeting room in the City Council House (Linnavalitsus). There, the City Councillor Jaan Möller and another representative were waiting for us. The idea of the meeting was to find out about the specific plans for the area. Councillor Möller, who has been in office for 13 years, constantly mentioned the appeal of the ports, as the most important factor in the development of Paldiski as a integrated city. His objective is to increase the population from 4,000 to 7,000 by attracting immigrants, offering opportunities for work at the port as well, as in the industry.  

With a huge map of Paldiski and the peninsula on the table, he showed the group the plans for attracting the new residents to the city. The allocated areas, far away from the ruins and abandoned buildings, are a clear attempt at remodelling the city. In order to achieve this, the city must attract private funding. However, he Möller was sceptical about the development of Paldiski as a tourist destination. He claimed that business is the future of Paldiski, even though it is a well-know place for hiking due to the cliffs of limestone.  




Estonians and Russians 

In contrast to the recent events, Mr Möller emphasised that in his 13 years of service he has experienced just one case of friction between the Estonian and the Russian population. Apart from that “we haven’t had any problems”, he added.  

Baring this in mind, we went to visit the local police chief, Madis Melzar. He affirmed that the relations between the Estonian and the Russian population are peaceful. And it was noticeable on the streets too that there was no threat, visible or otherwise. 

After being at the Police Station, we went to the south port in order to have a guided tour. Inside the terminal port building one could notice a different atmosphere that made you doubt if you were really in Paldiski at all. From the inside one can look through a big yellow window, which somehow tries to erase the label of a “grey city”. When walking inside, I noticed that a huge cargo ship was just delivering a great quantity of new cars. 

It is clear that everyone has a common goal: the development of a new, economically and socially prosperous Paldiski that escapes the label it has been given. Now it is up to the students to start their investigation, which will hopefully see the rebirth of Paldiski from its ashes.


Photos by Mauricio Roa 

Cover story Misc

Light and shadows on the silver screen

Regina Linnanheimo (1915-1995) was passionate about movies from the very get-go: as a girl, she spent her every last penny on going to the cinema. She also had her sister to look up to, for Rakel Linnanheimo was an actress as well as the first Finnish professional model. Regina’s own acting career got started at the age of 15, when her sister could not be in two places at once. Rakel was doing a fashion show, so Regina stood in for her as an actress. Soon after, her talent as an actress in her own right was noted and she landed a speaking role in a 1934 Valentin Vaala comedy. It wasn’t long before Regina Linnanheimo became known as the leading lady for many a historical melodrama and screen adaptation.

During the 1930s and 40s Linnanheimo worked for the Finnish studios SF and Suomi-Filmi, and appeared in several box office hits such as Kulkurin valssi (The Vagabond's Waltz, 1941), Kaivopuiston kaunis Regina (The Beautiful Regina of Kaivopuisto, 1941) and Katariina ja Munkkiniemen kreivi (Catherine and the Count of Munkkiniemi, 1943). These are movies that generation after generation of Finns have seen and loved (for their sense of fake nostalgia, if nothing else), and which gained her enormous popularity. With her dimples and great big eyes, Linnanheimo certainly brought to the productions a measure of glamour, romance and beauty. Her acting skills were not inconsiderable either, and she was awarded the Jussi prize, the Finnish equivalent of an Oscar. 

{mosimage}This is how Linnanheimo describes her life in the July 1938 edition of SF News:-Your main hobby, dear Lady? -The cinema, or SF movies, to be exact.-And your other hobbies? This is a very important question, Miss, for its answer gives the readers a true picture of you. -The cinema, dear Mister interviewer, or SF movies, to be exact. My other occupations – hobbies or pastimes, as you will – are books, languages, music and sports of all sorts, the latter including certain walking-tours to the SF studios in Haaga, swimming, cycling, workouts (that is, standing) with seamstresses for hours, etc. One at a time, of course, and taking into account the demands of the seasons, etc. There are times when I do needlework, clean, and sit in cafés. You could be surest of finding me downstairs at Fazer. As you can see, I am a hopelessly ordinary creature, and cannot think of anything to make me interesting to the readers. Except perhaps for the fact that I forget to greet my acquaintances, and run into passers-by, especially if I am turning a part over in my mind…

However in the late 30s Linnanheimo started feeling the limitations of her roles, and as (a graduate of the Helsinki German School) she spoke fluent German, it seemed reasonable enough to look into launching a career in Germany. She visited the UFA studios in Berlin in 1938 and 1942 and chose for herself scenes out of a script called “Nacht ohne Abschied”. The Germans loved her, and the preparations for the making of the movie got well under way: the studio built new sets, and had costumes sewn to her measurements. Linnanheimo returned to Helsinki to wait for the final call, but meanwhile the tide of the Second World War turned against the Nazis, and the movie was left unmade. Even its test reels have never been recovered from the vaults of UFA. 

Teuvo Tulio’s lady and writer
After the war Linnanheimo continued her domestic career as the leading lady in Teuvo Tulio's smouldering melodramas, and later also as the screenwriter of his films. Teuvo Tulio (born Theodor Tugai, 1912-2000) was an independent producer/director who today is recognised as one of few true auteurs of Finnish cinema, and who has a cult status amongst film buffs.

Tulio’s movies typically emphasise melodrama at the expense of more psychological “drama”. More important to Tulio than the authenticity of the material or the internal coherence of the plot was the cinematic flow of emotions. With the use of melodramatic devices, such as light, shadows, and camera angles, he sought to create ever greater emotional charges. From the understanding between Tulio and Linnanheimo emerged great works of art: intense, modern movies, which reach beyond mere symbolism to the very edge of lunacy Together, the two constitute the unsurpassed creative duo of Finnish cinema; their interaction has been compared to that between Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir, and their friendship lasted throughout the years.

The alcoholic melodrama Olet mennyt minun vereeni (You've Invaded My Blood, 1956) was Linnanheimo’s final movie, after which she retired completely from the screen and public life. She had always been one to keep her private life private (we know that she married a Swedish count during the 40s, yet never really lived with him), but with her retirement, she grew even more reclusive. In the end, it was the popular imagination that transformed this leading lady of so many blockbusters in to a myth and a legend. 


Photos by Finnish Film Archive 

Cover story Misc

Pushing the limits of the human body

“The first incarnation of Circus Mundus Absurdus saw the light of day back in 1999, when I met Antti Kervinen and Eero Auvinen in art school in Tampere. It started off as an experimental circus / art project The early performances mostly consisted of traditional fakir stunts, like walking on broken glass, eating light bulbs, contortionism, the bed-of-nails, fire spitting and eating, plus Eero's juggling routines. Lassi and Jussi joined the group later, bringing with them a lot of piercing know-how and encouraging us to develop the shows further. Over the years, the concept of CMA has evolved considerably both theatrically and aesthetically and includes more demanding stunts like suspensions and hook-play in our shows. So we have gradually grown towards a more intense style of adult circus – not that we intentionally try to be “extreme”: that has never been our aim.”

So how many members do you have nowadays and what are the criteria for joining Circus Mundus Absurdus?
We are five people in the group nowadays. There is no definite “criteria” for joining the group, nor are we recruiting new members As a five-piece, it's still realistic to travel with a relatively small budget, and it's always fun to collaborate with other artists and musicians, so it makes sense not to try and expand too much. It's been a process of natural selection, I would say.
Lately we've been working with a fabulous free jazz trio called Black Motor from Tampere, plus a few guest musicians and performers, so the full-scale CMA show nowadays has a crew of 12. It's much better than just the five of us – you can't beat a live soundtrack – but the five of us can still pull off a full-on performance.

What can people expect when watching your performances?
A lot of black humour and twisted clownery, plus an intense physical performance in the form of an absurd theatre play: stretching skin, scorching flames, dripping blood, wide grins… Full-on entertainment, for sure, as our aim is to put on a really good show. Mostly, very diverse audiences seem to enjoy our shows – but on the other hand, people have also been known to faint or throw up, as they’ve not been able to handle the intensity. So be warned: CMA shows are not suitable for children or especially sensitive individuals.

Do you enjoy indulging in painful activities?
The pain is an integral part of what we do, but it is not the part that we enjoy. The pain is there to enable us to keep in control of what we do. There is so much more to the whole experience of planning and carrying out a show like ours that we do not pay that much attention to the pain, as it is something that we already automatically just deal with. The endorphins triggered by intense physical sensation, though – that is something quite enjoyable! And we sure enjoy doing the Circus Mundus Absurdus shows – it’s a shit load of fun.

Have you had any accidents while performing a show?
Well, for one, all fire-eaters get burned. Nowadays it happens very rarely, but fire is still fire (as in: HOT). So far we've done something like 300 shows, so small scale accidents (like minor cuts and bruises) are bound to happen every now and then. What we do is very physical, but we've never had any serious accidents. We know what we're doing – even though our shows can appear chaotic or out of control, that's all theatre. The stunts are all for real, of course, and yeah, I can admit having cut my foot on broken glass a few times over the years, but it's rare. I've also had a nipple ring ripped off once – a freak accident, I think you’d call it.

{mosimage}You just came back from USA a few days ago. How were the shows there? Was it the first time you performed in America?
The US tour was done under the moniker of The Bloody Tourists, since it was just the three of us (Jussi, Wisa & Lassi) rather than the whole group. It was the first time we had performed in USA. We had three shows and the response everywhere was ecstatic. We were quite surprised with the overwhelming audience reactions ourselves, since there's a lot of very powerful and impressive stuff being done around the US. For example, while suspensions are still quite rare in Finland, and not that common in Europe anyway, in the States a lot of people get suspended on a regular basis -they look at it almost as a hobby, or an art form, and think nothing of getting some hooks on their backs (or elbows, or knees, or chests) every now and then. Which is cool!
We performed in Portland, Oregon with Societas Insomnia & Power Circus and in Las Vegas, Nevada and Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Swing Shift Side Show and the Ascension Suspension Team. The US road trip was a great experience; we got to work with some really great people and will definitely try to get the whole crew over the next time.

I know that Lassi has done some porn also. We had a Finnish porn industry story a couple of months ago actually.
Lassi did a number of porn films as an actor a few years back, and has moved on to producing skin flicks. That is got nothing to do with CMA, though, except that he is got no inhibitions about showing his dick onstage. Or suspending heavy weights from it. Or getting it grinded. Or…

Interesting …  Anyway, any other information you would like to share with us?

Well, I should mention that there is a self-released CMA DVD coming out in May, featuring a 73-minute video documentary of our adventures so far, plus a few extras (including Jussi's 150-meter-high suspension!) -so order it through our website and you'll be supporting Finnish freak circus culture!

For more information, check out their website www.

Cover story Misc

The party of the people at Kaisaniemi Park

The promoter of the festival, Johanna Eurakoski, explains more about what the visitor can find during the weekend: “The whole of Kaisaniemi park is filled with a marvellous cultural programme and everybody can, of course, choose the thing that interests them. Many come just to enjoy the music or the programme for kids, others for the marvellous food or just the laid back picnic atmosphere. At the same time, some 250 NGOs, companies and authorities will be there presenting their activities One can look at what they’re offering or not – it is really a personal choice”.

And certainly is, since the list of participants and artists will cater for all kinds of tastes: Ska Cubano (Cuba/Jamaica), il Murran (Kenia), La Sarita (Peru), Dirty Babylon Breaker (France), Ranferí Aguilar (Guatemala) Olavi Uusivirta with Friends (Finland) or Zarkus Poussa (Finland) are some of the highlights that you will be able to enjoy totally free of charge.

For some of these bands, this is the first visit to Finland. As Carlos from Ska Cubano tells us: “No, we haven't played in Finland before and we are very excited about performing in Helsinki. Our style is a concoction of some of the best rhythms and flavours of the Caribbean, so see you all there!”

There was also an unexpected change to the performer’s list, as the French Babylon Circus had to be replaced by Dirty Babylon Breaker. Ben Herbiere explained what happened: “We are sad as Babylon Circus were supposed to play. Unfortunately, following a great show, Babylon Circus lead singer David had a serious accident in Moscow and is still unable to play. Dirty Babylon Breaker is a mix of our Clash influences, a little bit of Beastie Boys and Babylon Circus Music” (Five members of Babylon Circus participate in this side project).

So let’s cross our fingers and hope that the sun will bathe the capital of Finland during the festival days and everybody can have tonnes of fun there. FREE! Magazine will also have a stand at the festival. So if you pass by, stop to salute us!


World Village Festival will be held in Kaisaniemi Park (Helsinki) on the 26 and 27 May. Entrance and concerts are free of charge.

Misc News

Samantha Marie José Sayegh wins Ourvision

Cover story Misc

Participating youth – A risk or an opportunity?

Annantalo Arts Centre is a member of the European Network of Art Organisations for Children and Young People (EUnetART) and will be hosting the event in Finland, along with EUnetART and Finnish Aladdin’s Lamp network, which enhances children's art education in Finland. This year’s festival will be held in partnership with the City of Helsinki, Passion2 seminar organized by Annantalo Arts Centre with Pedaali Association and various art institutions from the Capital region.

The conference will be preceded by the SpringLab. This is highlighted by the participation of ISH group from Holland, who will work with groups of Finnish children from Vantaa Mikkola School and have presentations for the results of their project on Saturday, 5th May in Tikkurila lukio hosted by the Cultural Services of Vantaa City.

While it might be true to say that the youth culture today lacks a steady footing, particularly in relation to art, listening to the director of Annantalo Arts Centre, Johanna Lindstedt, during an interview last Friday gave a broader overview of the reality of art and creativity even among children and youth in Helsinki region. It also paved way to recognise other creative activities that are taking place in other towns around Finland.

The Aladdin’s Lamp (Taikalamppu in Finnish) was launched six years ago and has managed to touch upon many aspects of children and art in Finland, and also forms a network that offers funding to pilot projects that target children and youth. So far there are many towns that have inaugurated the Aladdin’s Lamp, among which are Helsinki, Vantaa, Pori, and Hämeenlinna. These form a network that shares and implements ideas that strengthen the growth of children and youth art work in Finland.

My interest had been growing over the weeks regarding arts participation of young people in Helsinki region. Living in Helsinki metropolitan and being witness to the idleness of many youth gives one thoughts of what is not being done to occupy these youths, and what can be done to indulge them in something worthwhile, even useful for their future. This year's EUnetART festival offers an opportunity for participants, personnel of culture and education, along with teachers of children and people, to learn the success of others, adapt new ways of involving youth and children in art and cultural activities and also motivate them into new endeavours of their choice.

Cover story Misc

Dance, dance, dance

Since the late-eighties an association of artists have worked for the production of modern dance performances and activities. In 1997 that association was established in a permanent place at Kaapeli (Cable Factory) with the aim of supporting the production of contemporary dance. Now Zodiak is doing better than ever. The second annual Z-In-Motion festival takes places in May and about 15-20 productions are presented every year. How is this done? Let's take a small tour behind the scenes.

Are you a dancer? Do you want to produce a piece? Send your application! Dancer-choreographer Vera Nevanlinna is part of the board of the Zodiak Presents Association. Every year the board decides the performances to be produce from all the received applications. “It is a really hard selection process because every year there is 70 or 80 applicants and we only produce 15 or 20 of them.” Don't give up if your application is not approved, “Production will be harder then and to rent a performance space will be more expensive,” Vera acknowledges, “but I think people should try to do it.”

Vera has danced since she was three. “Someone told my mother that I wasn't walking, but that I was dancing,” she tells. Since 1998 she has been involved with Zodiak and currently she is premiering the solo piece News, a 20-minute piece that she learned from the Deborah Hay performance commissioning project in Scotland last September. I agreed to practice the piece at least for three months before the first public performance,” Vera explains, “and that means that I do the piece in its entirety five times a week during those three months.”




As in any production, someone needs to take care of managing the money. This spring, choreographer Hanna Pajala-Assefa is taking care of that part of the productions. “I don't get the money but I just coordinate the budget. It's quite nice to be able to help the production because as a choreographer I know that when the premiere is getting closer your mind is getting more and more focused with the artist work, so it's hard to get involved with the practical problems.”

Those practical problems can be very diverse, “I was working in a production some weeks ago and in the performance they were using lots of toilet paper,” Hanna explains. “When I saw the rehearsal and I saw that they were using 15 or 20 rolls per show, it was obvious that they should get them free from someone. It that sense, it's nice to help. Fortunately, it didn't happen during the paper workers strike.”

An important aspect of the show is the technical requirements of every performance. Tuukka Törneblom has worked for one year at Zodiak as technical director. “My task here is to make the light and sound design possible. Sometimes people want to have something fancy and I have to say that it's not possible,” he clarifies. “There are lots of tricks to learn here because it's not the typical stage. We miss a backstage, there are windows. Many of those are still new for me.”


Education and workshops

Apart of the performances and the productions, Zodiak is devoted to spread the knowledge about contemporary dance. The center organizes different workshops and lectures. Choreographer Anu Rajala has been in charge of the workshop Dance as an Experience in Body and Mind this spring. This workshop was “open to anyone interested in learning and experiencing more about their own movement” and it was “focus on encountering, sensing and bodily communication within the group”. The workshop results in a public performance.

Katja Kirsi is in charge of Education and Outreach at Zodiak. She plans different ways for artists and audience to communicate. Pre and after performance talks are organized which allow audiences to learn about the artists' work. Zodiak is trying to reach the widest audiences possible, so even if Finnish is not your best language, every now and then workshops in other languages, such as English, French and German, are organized.

In addition, big efforts are done to integrate dance into schools and get the young into modern dance apart from the hip hop artists' MTV choreographies. “Feedback youngsters usually give is that modern dance is odd, but at the same time they say they enjoy it,” Katja points out. “One thing I try to say is that it can be good to challenge your mind. I try to give them hints and tips to understand the performance: Why are they feeling like this? Why are they reacting like that? They have new questions for themselves.”

Don't be afraid if you haven't seen contemporary dance. The dozens of performances during the Z-In-Motion festival are a good opportunity to discover this art, “Come and see many pieces. There are so many variations of modern dance that you need to see several performances to see the whole picture,” suggest Vera Nevanlinna suggests, but the best advice she gives is, “Don't trust what you saw on TV!”

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The circus is in town

The Eurovision Song Contest enjoys a healthy popularity and it is more kitsch than ever. Last year there were more than eight million votes (either by phone call or SMS) and the contest is followed by large audiences, even in non-participant countries like India, Korea and New Zealand. Drag queens, monsters, boy bands and the usual melodic singers compete for being the big stars for one year (or day).This year is no exception. 
Verka Serdyuchka, the Ukrainian participant is a controversial drag queen who has raised a great deal of protest in her own country. Angry Ukrainian nationalists held demonstrations across the country against Verka, who was chosen as Ukraine’s entry by an overwhelming majority. The nationalists claim that Serdyuchka is a grotesque stereotype of a stupid Ukrainian villager.

No less controversial is the song by Israel’s candidate. The group is Teapacks and the song is Push the Button. It refers to “crazy rulers” and says that “he’s gonna blow us up to biddy, biddy kingdom come”. Did someone mention Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? The band denies it, but some weeks ago Eurovision spokesman Kjell Ekholm hinted that the song could be banned. Any publicity is good to pull out some votes.

{mosimage}Post-Lordi Finland
After last year's nightmare, Finland decided to choose a more conventional performer in the form of Idols-tailored singer Hanna Pakarinen. She will be the entry for the host country and her song has some strong rock guitars, but the melody is cheesy as only a Eurovision song can be. As host country, Hanna Pakarinen already qualifies to the finals and she will sing the fifth performance of the night.

But Finland does not only face the challenge of delivering a good musical performance. The Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) is in charge of organizing the event, which will be held at Finland’s largest ice hockey hall the Hartwall Areena in Pasila, just a few kilometers from the city center – although YLE wants to name the hall the 'Helsinki Areena' for the event to avoid extra and free advertising. More than forty people in YLE have worked for months in the production of the event that has a budget of around 13 million euros. In spite of all the efforts, there have been some critiques already towards YLE’s work. The promised webcast of the contest draw failed and recently Estonia protested because of the lack of information from YLE about the technical aspects of the stage, the lighting and the sound.

Finnish polarities
The theme for this year’s contest will be “True Fantasy”, which “will embrace Finland and Finnishness in terms of the polarities associated with the country: light vs. darkness, northern fells vs. islands in the south, our strong bond to nature vs. fast technological development, taciturnity against inner strength and creative madness, as showcased by Lordi in an original way,” defines YLE’s Executive Producer Heikki Seppälä.Old national rivalries and friendships will arise again. Cyprus will give 12 points to Greece and Greece will do the same with Cyprus. One more time place your bets! And if you cannot stand the contest, put your earplugs in for the next few weeks.

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The tigress of the world


Prima donna of the Grand Opera in Paris

Aino Achté was born in Helsinki on the 23rd of April 1876 to Emmy and Niklas Achté. The Achtés were talented musicians, and Aino learnt to sing from her mother. The audiences loved her from her very first performance. Aged 17, Aino was a tall, slender girl with big brown eyes, an exceptional voice, and great skill. She had another important asset as well, namely her mother. Emmy Achté was an ambitious and enterprising woman who had aspired to an international career herself, and studied in the conservatories of Stockholm, Dresden and Paris. It was the Paris Conservatoire she now chose for her daughter: it represented the absolute élite of the French musical scene, and could launch a successful student into fame.

Having passed the entrance examination with flying colours Aino studied at the Conservatoire for three years (1894-7). Her diligence and ambition were soon noted, but the competition was intense, and Aino's surname made her the butt of jokes as its French pronunciation resembled that of the word "achetée" (bought). "Excusez-moi, mademoiselle Achté, mais est-que vous êtes déjà acheteé?", one of her teachers would often say, eventually leading Aino to change the "h" in Achté to a "k", Ackté.

Regardless of the name, Aino's studies were a success. At the end of her third year she won the first prize at the annual competition of the opera class. This secured her a place at the Grand Opera of Paris, or the Théâtre National de l'Opéra as it was known at the time. Her début role as Marguerite in Charles Gounod´s "Faust" was a triumph, and the Opera eventually came to sign her for six years (1897-1903), during which time she made several recordings.


A cultural ambassadress

Ackté and the painter Albert Edelfelt were considered unofficial cultural ambassadors of Finland. At the Paris World Exhibition of 1900 the young prima donna had an active role in organising concerts of Finnish music. Her diplomatic skills and intimate knowledge of Paris helped ensure the success of the Finnish Pavilion, and thus consolidated for their part the idea of Finland as an autonomous cultural entity.

Ackté and Edelfelt, who had observed his young compatriot's career from its start, were friends, and Edelfelt painted a number of portraits of her. Back home, the two might have been rumoured to be more than just friends, but in the eyes of the Parisians Ackté was exceptionally celibate. Her private life gave little cause for gossip. In fact Ackté had been secretly engaged to Heikki Renvall, a fennoman lawyer, since 1896. Her mother and the Opera were against the marriage, as it was thought to be an impediment to her career, but the couple eventually married in the spring of 1901. Later that year Aino gave birth to a little girl, and in 1908 the Ackté-Renvall couple had a son. The marriage ended in divorce nine years later, and in 1919 Ackté married the general, Governor Bruno Jalander.


{mosimage}Disappointment and success

The Metropolitan Opera had been courting Ackté for some time when in 1903 she finally had the chance to disengage herself from the Grand Opera. The Americans signed her for two seasons, but the experience proved to be a disappointment. The competition was even fiercer than in Paris, the audience favoured the Italian style of opera, and Ackté could not reconcile herself with the language, the magazines' practice of reviewing performances (in exchange for bribes), or the American lifestyle in general. She missed Europe, Paris, and the civilisation she was accustomed to.

Ackté returned to Europe, and started increasingly to tour the great stages of England and Germany, singing parts from Wagner's "Mastersingers", "Lohengrin", "Tannhäuser", "Flying Dutchman", and "Siegfrid" as well as Puccini's "Tosca" and Massenet's "Thaïs". Her greatest success, however, was in the role of "Salome". Ackté had heard of this new, challenging opera by Richard Strauss already in 1906. Strangely transfixed, she studied the part zealously under the composer himself. Not only did she study the music, but she also secured a famous orientally styled dress (designed to give an illusion of near-nakedness) from the foremost fashion house in Paris, and worked out a choreography for the "Dance of the Seven Veils" with an expert of ancient on Greek dances. It was all for one goal: Ackté considered Salome the role of her life, one that could make her the No. One opera singer of the world.

The 1910 performance of Salome in Covent Garden finally obtained Ackté the climax she had longed for. The opening night was a high society event, and Ackté delivered on all the expectations. The audience was absolutely entranced by her dramatic, passionate Salome; the clamour of the crowd forced the curtain up sixteen times, and the stage overflowed with flowers. The reviews called her a cat, a tigress, an enchantress, a Woman, a pure sensation, and reportedly Strauss himself told Ackté that she was the best Salome in the world. 

Pioneer of the Finnish opera

Ackté's international career came slowly to an end at the eve of the First World War. She continued to give occasional concerts abroad, but on the whole the war made it easier for her to gradually retire from the stage. She now turned her attention fully to the needs of the Finnish opera. 

Finnish opera had experienced a golden age in the 1870s, but since then there had been only a few irregular groups performing at their own expense. There was, and had been for years, talk of a national opera, and Aino Ackté decided to turn the idea into reality. In 1911 Ackté, together with Edward Fazer, Oskar Merikanto and others, established the Kotimainen ooppera – Inhemska operan, renamed in 1914 the Finnish Opera, and today known as the Finnish National Opera. Ackté brought her artistic abilities, international style and glamour to the new house while her mother acted as singer, teacher, and artistic director. The first performances were a success, but the artists perceived Ackté to be rude and arrogant. She became entangled in bitter disagreements with the other founders, and was forced to quit the enterprise.

After leaving the Kotimainen ooppera Ackté began to organise international opera festivals in the historic castle of Olavinlinna, Savonlinna. The setting was perfectly beautiful, St. Petersburg only short distance away, and the town teemed with summer guests seeking amusement. "I wish to offer artistic experiences also for those people who have never in been to opera", Ackté explained to the press. She organised the festival successfully during the years 1912-1914, again after the war in 1916, and finally in 1930, when she also gave her last public performance. In 1938 Ackté was invited to become the director of the Finnish Opera, but after one glorious season, and renewed quarrels about budget, she resigned the post.

Aino Ackté died of pancreatic cancer on the 8th of August 1944. Savonlinna and Helsinki have streets named after her, and the City of Helsinki owns her summerhouse of 40 years, Villa Aino Ackté, which has been restored to its original appearance.

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Play your part!

Making films inside videogames has been a growing trend since the advent of 3D games in the '90s. Quake was the first videogame to give freedom and powerful resources to creators bringing hour long movies with custom built sets, special effects, graphics, real voices, sound effects and music could be created.

As the game engines, tools and 3D hardware improved and better and more diverse games were released, the popularity of making movies with games increased. Today, this trend is known as machinima, a term that defines both a production technique and a film genre. Machinima (pronounced: muh-sheen-eh-mah) is a combination of filmmaking, animation and game development. It is movies made within a real-time, 3D virtual environment, often using 3D video-game technologies.

Machinima takes the basics of real world filmmaking into the virtual world of the game. Pre-production is needed to prepare the screenplay, the storyboard, the sets, the characters and camera positions. Once everything is ready, filming can start.

Ready! Action! Go! The game starts when the players with the game controllers, instead of playing it, perform their role in the movie, as any other actor. The shooting of the movie can be through network playing. Machinima makers can also produce the movie on their own by using automated script and other tools, usually provided by the developers of the game. After the shooting, a period of post-production is needed for editing, adding special effects, music and sound.

This technique is much faster and cheaper to produce than traditional CGI animation. Sets and characters can easily be changed and there is no need for expensive hardware and software tools. The films are quickly spread over the Internet and community forums. Machinima fans created the Academy of Machinima Arts and Sciences, where one can watch, create and share a variety of films.


{mosimage}Popular series

The most popular 3D games provide the scenarios for machinima works. Rooster Teeth is one of the most popular machinima community websites. They are the creators of The Strangerhood, a sit-com based on The Sims 2, where a bunch a Sims is gathered in an apartment for unknown reasons. Based in the game Halo, Burns has created Red vs. Blue. In this series nine intergalactic soldiers are stuck in a non-descript landscape. They are supposed to fight each other, but they wonder why they are there in the first place and joke about profound matters.

Grand Theft Auto, Second Life, Unreal Tournament and almost any 3D game can be the environment for a machinima work. As computers get more powerful, more people join the community and this goes mainstream. Several producers are already selling DVD of their films and series. If you play it, film it!

Machinima films can be watch at


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Am I just a CC for you?

Is always sending e-mails an innocent action aimed at providing and exchanging information among co-workers? Answers to that question have recently been published in interesting study by Karianne Skovholt, who is a PhD scholarship holder at BI Norwegian School of Management. She affirms in her conclusions that under cover of simply wishing to provide information, employees can obtain support and exert pressure on the primary recipient.


“Employees can use an email’s cc function to position themselves in the organizational hierarchy under cover of simply wanting to provide information.”

Karianne performed her research by gathering more than 700 mails collected from an international company based in Norway. What was discovered is that the workers “rank” recipients, depending on how positively they think about them before sending the message. If they considered them as 'less relevance', they are copied as CC instead of in the “To” main field. This would follow the basic rules of a normal conversation in real life, where you have the speaker, the person who is addressed to participate directly, the participants and the listeners who do not take direct part in the discussion. People follow the same patterns when communicating in the cyberspace.


Next time you receive a general copied mail at your office, pay attention if you appear as CC or not. It can give a good idea about how the sender takes you into consideration.

Articles Misc

Knut, the cute Polar Bear

Everybody seems to be delighted by the appearance of such a lovely creature that will be contemplated in future time in the German zoo. For me, I just can feel pity. Knut is not the first animal who becomes a symbol of a zoo, or even of a nation. To my mind come the names of the Panda bear Chu-Lin in Madrid zoo, or the exceptionally white gorilla Copito de Nieve (Snowflake) in Barcelona zoo. In these three cases, the species belong to the black list of animals under the risk of extinction.

As far as I understand, the justification of the existence of zoological parks, those should serve for having a glimpse of what you can find in the real nature, more than as last hope of survival for species that are annihilated in their natural habitats. Knut, Chu-Lin or Copito did not have any other choice than living inside a cage, because most probably they will be dead if belonging to their natural habitats.

Days ago a new report by the UN was published where it is affirmed that the change of climate can lead to the disappearance of 30% of the present existing species if things continue the way they are. My god! Almost one-third of all the species existing on our planet are at serious risk of perishing forever, which has huge negative consequences for humankind. And what is humankind doing meanwhile? Watching Idols on TV!

Would you allow somebody to attack your children while playing in a park? So at what point do the human race became so passive when facing the imminent tragedy that will devastate our future generations? How much do we have to wait before asking for real measures to save the world? Until it is too late? This same discourse has been told by the ecologists for decades, but now the scientists are undoubtedly telling us that the time is running out, and we still prefer to look the other way.

What amazes me is our capacity to continue drinking our coffee and turning the page to the following piece of news, instead of instantly breaking into tears contemplating the tragedy of our mother Gaia, provoked by none other than ourselves. Saramago, the Literature Nobel Prize winner, in his recent visit to Finland, said that he could not understand how we were so worried to send spacecrafts to Mars when at the same time millions of people were dying of starvation on Earth. But Saramago, at his age, seems to still have faith about humankind. I am starting to lose mine.

Knut, my cute polar bear, I just hope a long life for you in Berlin zoo, and I just also hope that the day when the flame of your existence disappears – and let’s expect a long healthy life for you, my dear teddy bear – you will not be remembered as the last one of your kind.