Articles Misc

The First Time

Expectations run high, first impressions
are everything, the benchmark of quality must be set and now I am referring to
the column, not my sexual technique, which has thankfully improved a little.
Columns need to push the readers' right buttons, caress their intimate places,
nibble their earlobes, stroke their thighs, lick their…ok, this is getting
ridiculous and a touch uncomfortable. 

You'd agree that columns are usually
written by well-known personalities whose out-spoken opinions have garnished
them with notoriety or a comedic edge that translates well into text. I'm sure
you are wondering how any of these apply to me; well, allow me to explain. I am
eminent among those who know me and they will all vouch that my heart is in
comedy, although it rarely works once it leaves my mouth. 

There is no formula for writing a good
column (if somebody does have one, please mail me), with the words spilling
forth from the personality of the author and mixed together with a healthy
splash of opinion. Aside from that, there are no rules to column writing and
currently there have been no rules decreed by either Antonio or Eduardo, but
give it time, give it time. Cue maniacal evil laughter and rubbing of hands. 

January does have the habit of bringing out
the strange aspect of people's characters and it is no exception in my case.
However, it is also a month for resolutions, new diaries and Christmas presents
still shiny and operational, so what better time for Finland to celebrate the
arrival of a new English language culture magazine? We are all looking for
something different after the frivolities of Christmas and trying to ignore the
fact that Valentine's Day is peeking round the corner – there you go guys, a
year's subscription to FREE! for your loved one on Feb 14th. 

{mosimage}After losing your virginity (yes, we are
back to that again), you spend the rest of your life anticipating when the next
romp is going to be, which is similar to the way many of us approach the year.
We struggle to enjoy the immediate moment, always looking to the future to the
next celebration, the next birthday, the next wedding, the next graduation or
the next big thing, while life passes by unnoticed with our attention directed
elsewhere. Take some time out of your life this year to breathe and to absorb
what is going on around you because it will be another distant memory before
you know it. 

Serious time is over. We can now return to
normal programming…where was I? Oh yes, losing your cherry. Once you have that
haunting first time out of the way you can knuckle down and hone your skills,
so you can expect something a great deal kinkier and bursting with misplaced
confidence next time. The FREE! guys believe that I am the man for the job, but
why they stuck me at the back shall remain unquestioned…for now. 

To have made it this far into the magazine
and into my column means that you have been significantly entertained by the
team's efforts and you will now be counting the days until issue two is
published. However, I suggest that with issue two you start at the back and
read my next column first.

Make the most of 2007!

Articles Misc

Send me some of hi-tech lovin’

He told me about
it in Messenger.

I cannot even
remember how was possible to have a date and be at the right place at the right
time before owning a mobile phone. My first one was looking (and weighing) more
like a brick than like a phone, a huge Motorola, and I bought it when I was 18,
for work reasons. That was not so many years ago, but seems like ages.

This year, for Christmas,
I did not send any greetings letters. It was easier to send a general mail to the
entire contacts list. And I can hardly remember how it feels to have the mail
box full of envelopes that don't have to do with bank bills or advertising.

I am so used to
writing mails and documents using the keyboard (and I think I am pretty good
and fast doing it) that if I take a pencil and write for more than 10 minutes,
my hand hurts.

I have not played
soccer for ages, but just half an hour ago I scored a couple of beautiful goals
from out of the penalty area in my PS2 playing Pro Evolution Soccer 6.

I am not trying to
criticize the incredibly fast growth of new technologies. New devices make our
life easier, and offer a huge new world of opportunities for us, mortal users.
But I sometimes miss the human touch of bumping into a friend in the street,
and going on the spur of the moment to share a few of minutes of company, and a
hot coffee, instead of having to send an SMS to arrange a meeting two weeks

I would like to
continue with my reflections, but it is time to stop. My virtual girlfriend
calls me via Skype. She is really angry because she caught me dumping her in a
dating chat yesterday. She used a different nick than the usual one to trap me…

Cover story Misc

Living in a virtual world, making real money

massive multiplayer online role-playing is already one of the most popular
forms of entertainment on the Internet with more than 15 million users in 2006.
It is also a business opportunity whose revenues are expected to reach over a
billion dollars by 2009, according to recent studies.

{mosimage}Second Life
is one of the most popular virtual worlds. It has nothing to do with
interstellar wars or medieval battles. As its name says, Second Life proposes
an alternative life in a virtual 3D world where people (or avatars) meet and
chat, assist in lectures and concerts or do business, buying and selling land
and items. To enter this world one just needs to create a free account through
the website and download a small program. More than two million users have
already done it. The avatars can dress up prettily, flirt with each other or
walk naked in the nudist beach

Since its
launch in 2003, Second Life has attracted the attention of mass media. The BBC
and the New York Times have echoed every day’s happenings in this virtual world
and news agency Reuters has developed the Second Life news center. However,
among bloggers and analysts there is also criticism that has accused Second
Life of just being a hype, since a large percentage of the more than two
million residents do not actively participate in the virtual once the account
is created.


Doing business

Lifers own the virtual goods they create and retain their copyrights. This way,
they can traded in Linden dollars (L$), which have a real world value: around 260
L$ equals 1 US $. Linden dollars are necessary to buy land or to get married (marriage
fee is 10 L$, but divorce gets more expensive, up to 25 L$). Some users are
starting to earn a living from working in the virtual world, for example
through virtual clothing design. The more dramatic voices have already suggested
that the Second Life world could be used as a money laundering centre.

The virtual
world has produced its very own millionaires who have become very wealthy
people in real life. Last year Anshe
(or Ailin Graef) became the first online personality to achieve a net
worth exceeding one million US dollars from profits entirely earned inside a
virtual world. The avatar even made it to the cover of Business Week last May.
Chung made her first stake of money as a virtual escort, and soon moved to
virtual real state. She buys up land in Second Life, develops it (building
houses, adding rivers, mountains, etc) and then rents it or sells it to other
users. It is a continent she named Dreamland.

entrepreneurs and corporations are not always well received in Second Life.
Recently Anshe Chung’s interview with CNET was interrupted due to an attack
with animated items. Some corporate events are met with protests by
placard-waving avatars and the Second Life Liberation Army fights for voting
rights for avatars.

This year
seems to be a milestone in finding out if big business operations in Second
Life can pay off, especially since it recently opened its source code.
Available under the GNU Public License any developer can legally modify the
software. A good bunch of add-ons and bug fixes is expected.


Media circus

August, Suzanne Vega was the first
major recording artist to perform live in Second Life avatar form. Lectures and
cyberclasses are organized by professors and colleges. Newspapers are read and
video and music can be streamed while living in the virtual world.

The game
expands the community possibilities of the web. Gates between the real and the
virtual world can be created with SLurl, link that connect a website with a
location in Second Life. Movies made by second lifers and starring by avatars
are broadcast on popular sites like YouTube and film festivals are organized in
the virtual world. Whether the next generation of supermarket will be a 3D room
on the Internet is still to be seen.


Finland’s own virtual world

{mosimage}With less
hype other virtual world exists and even predating Second Life, in 2000 Finland's
Sampo Karjalainen and Aapo Kyrölä created Hotel Habbo, which has
been expanded to 29 countries already. Around 80% percent of its users are
teenagers between the ages of 12 and 18. Instead of complicated 3D environments,
Habbo uses simple cartoon graphics, creating a pleasant retro look. Users can
create their own character, their rooms in the hotels and even their own
virtual worlds to interact with others.

The rules
are strict in the Hotel Habbo. Conversations and comments in the community pass
through a filter before they appear in the screen. Swearing, racist and sexist
terms are not allowed.

In six years
online, Hotel Habbo has gathered 70 million registered users. Each month 7.5
million unique users visit the hotel and play. Some of these are pretty
popular. In 2005, the band Gorillaz performed a virtual world tour around twelve
Habbo hotels.

Blogs FREE! Blog

Will you take me?

FREE! Magazine
offers a new look at Finnish culture. But hey, it’s in English. That’s
right! There is already a good bunch of immigrants in Finland. Maybe
you are even one of them. We are sure many of them miss reading a
magazine or a newspaper they can easily understand.

However, FREE!
is not only for immigrants. Even more than Swedish, English is the
second language in Finland. How often do you hear the English language
while walking down Esplanadi or shopping in Kamppi? Finns are very
exposed to foreign media and the Internet has blurred the language
boundaries making English the common ground.

Still, the language does not explain why FREE!
is different. Our magazine features original in-depth articles and
interviews, with the aim of showing the wide array of cultural
happenings and products in Finland. If, for some reason or another, we
are all stuck in the country, let’s have some fun. It has a lot to
offer. FREE! is created in an honest and passionate way.

the pages of the first issue, you will find author Mikael Niemi talking
about his latest book and the Keränen brothers of 22-Pistepirkko
pass-by to comment upon their albums and projects. Comic artist Kaisa
Leka starts her tour around the world in our pages, while drummer Jay
Burnside explains the secrets of the new Flaming Sideburns album; even
the Ovi Bad Boys sneak into the FREE! pages.

You might
wonder what does culture means. To us, culture is about fun. It is
about entertainment. Let’s put political fights aside, let’s forget the
work problems. Take a big box of popcorn and watch a movie; pour a
glass of your favorite drink and read a book. But we are not naïve
either, so don’t expect only pop stories…

The team of FREE!
Magazine has worked more hours than a 7-Eleven to create its high
quality content and design. We hope you appreciate it. Visit our
website and tell us your feedback. We want FREE! to become a magazine for everyone.

Every month FREE!
Magazine will hit the streets with new exciting content and design.
Next time you see it, don’t leave it alone in the corner, just…

Take me! I’m FREE!

Art Interviews

Interview With Hanna-Leena Hemming

Could you tell us where the idea for opening the new museum came from?

Hanna-Leena: There were two coincidences that led to the opening of EMMA. First of all, we had the right building, this old printing factory that was available because it was being sold, and then the city of Espoo noticed that these premises could add value to the city. Then we heard that the Saastamöinen Foundation was looking for a place where they could put their works to be seen, so the two coincidences matched very well.

What could Emma offer that other contemporary museums in Finland do not, like for example Kiasma museum?

I think that EMMA will have a remarkable role in the Finnish art scene. We have Ateneum that shows art until beginning of 20th century, and then Kiasma which exhibits art that is the most modern and newest at the moment. Between these two museums was a big gap; the 20th century was missed, with coverage only from smaller museums. So now in EMMA we have a larger range of pieces of art that were not available in Finland before.

For the foreign visitor, you can already get tours information in English. Will there be other languages available in the future, like French or Spanish?

I am not sure about that, it is going to depend on the temporary exhibitions. If, for example, there is a French artist, there might be need for that, but it is very costly and the demand for other languages is limited, so at least in the beginning we will have to cover the gap with papers in different languages that guide the visitor.

What about the partnership with other international museums and galleries? Does EMMA have any special agreements with other museums around the world?

We do not permanent agreements, but we are working very closely with foreign museums. We are planning to have twelve temporary exhibitions per year, with very big international names, so we need cooperation. It is permanent in many senses, and the idea is to bring remarkable temporary exhibitions.

You have four important exhibitions for starters.

Yes, and four more that we are going to have after Christmas.

What were the criteria for choosing these artists for the opening of EMMA?

The head of the museum, Markku Valkonen, is personally responsible for this selection. I don’t know the criteria, but I think that his selection was very lucky one. It shows the beginning of modern art in a way if we think about Malevich, for example, and then something very new with the Iranian artist Shirin Neshat and her video installation.

You have both big Finnish and international artists' names. Is this going to be a trend for future exhibitions?

Yes definitely, we are going to have very big names for next year. Our plans reach even to the year 2009. For sure there will be more very interesting and exciting artists for the visitor.

Art Features

Malevich: The Beauty Of Simple Forms

Born near Kiev in 1878, Malevich is with no doubt one of the pioneers of abstract geometric art. He was inspired by Cubism and Futurism until he gave birth to a new stage not only in his work, but in the whole history of art: Suprematism, a concept that alludes to the supremacy of form.

Hannele Savelainen, researcher at Emma museum, explains us: “Malevich was a great thinker, and behind his work there is a complex philosophical and artistic theory. He was filled with a great sense of mysticism. For example, the concept of “zaum”, which refers to things beyond the reach of rational, is very present in his art’s theory. In this way, the surface of the painting is considered as a field of energy, where the colours are alive. The surface becomes sacred”.


In the current exhibition you can see some of the most famous of Malevich´s work: the black square, the cross and the circle on white background. Although arranged on different walls, the group looks like it could possibly be a triptych (a work of art done in three separate panels, which usually would be hinged together). There, the energy is clear and condensed in the black surface, while the white background represents emptiness. As a peak in Malevich´s Suprematism theory, he even painted a white surface on a white background. Unfortunately, EMMA could not get any of these works.

Malevich was so immersed in his Suprematism philosophy that in the early 1920s he left painting for several years to focus on teaching. The new Soviet system under the Totalitarian control of Stalin never allowed him to come back to such radical Suprematism ideas, but he always managed to walk on the edge between the official art, and his own vision and theories.

He focused on basic geometric forms and bright primary colours. Observing the different periods and stages of his life and work through the exhibition in Espoo, you realize that he never abandoned the use of the same colours in his palette. {quotes}It can be an abstract composition, or the portrait of a peasant, but the same primary colours remain there as a very personal touch in his work.{/quotes}


The exhibition has more than 50 paintings of the artists, most of them borrowed from the State Russian Museum, which has collaborated very closely with EMMA. The different periods of the artist’s work are widely represented, from their cubism compositions, to his more radical Suprematism period, and coming back to depicting figures, in concordance with the Social Realism art that was sure to follow. But many other aspects of Malevich´s creations are covered as well: drawings, costumes designed for the futurist opera Victory over the Sun that was played in Uusikirkko, on the Finnish side of the border (and with a strong resemblance to the Harlequins painted by Picasso during his earlier period), sketches and designs for buildings and other objects, such as a curious teapot.

In contrast with the geometrical compositions, the portrait of his mother, painted in 1932 – three years before her death – shows a very warm image of a person who always supported him all throughout his artistic career. There, a more humanized concept is in his latest creative period, with a style that approaches the great classics of the Impressionism.

An amazing feature in Malevich´s work that the visitor can contemplate all through the current exhibition is that he was able to master different styles without ever losing his own personal perspective of art, and that is why he is and will always be remembered as one of the fundamental figures in contemporary art.

At the cinema Cinema

Borat: the Comedy of Superiority

{quotes}Part Jackass, part Andy Kaufman, Sacha Baron Cohen is clearly a man who thrives on controversy, but to label him as a low-brow shock comedian is to miss the point.{/quotes} Yes, Borat is outrageous, tasteless and at times unbearably embarrassing to watch, but at the same time, intelligent and above all, pant-pissing, ‘tears-streaming-down your-cheeks’-class funny shit. Nothing is sacred, when Kazakhstan’s "number two reporter" is sent on a cultural fact-finding mission to the most superior nation of them all, the U.S and A.

On the surface level, Cohen’s comedy is based on blatant anti-semitism, misogyny and so on, but the punch line is delivered seemingly spontaneously by the unaware victims of Borat and the unashamed gut-laughter caused by the blatant breaking of convention. And that takes us back to superiority, something that Borat teaches the viewer quite a lot about.

{mosimage}Because of Borat’s bumbling social and physical clumsiness, people get a kick out of dismissing the Kazakhstani reporter as being mostly harmless and therefore must pay the price for their superiority, as Cohen mercilessly exploits all possible cracks their facades. The absurdity of the situations, and the way in which Cohen satirizes the patronizing attitudes which people have against a foreigner and his complete disregard of convention, makes for a type of comedy where the viewer can either writhe uncomfortably out of sympathy or laugh out loud while secretly enjoying a “I’m glad it’s not me” feeling of superiority for the poor victims of Borat’s bizarre deeds. The joke in Borat gets turned around so many times that the full title of the film turns from surface-funny bad English-joke to a very accurate description of the film: After all, the viewer does learn a lot about the American culture, and the nation of Kazakhstan has never in its history enjoyed such international fame – for, even though the Kazakhstani government got very upset, there is no such thing as bad publicity, as Matti Nykänen or Paris Hilton can confirm.

Cinema Features

Fox Days: The Size Does Not Matter

All of the films shown had English subtitles, so Fox Days makes a perfect occasion for the non-Finnish speaker to get a better idea of what is going on in the Finnish short film scene.

{mosimage} Short length does not necessarily mean low quality; rather, just the opposite. The authors try to show fresh and condensed ideas, and universal feelings like love, betrayal, or loneliness, and hot topics like couple relations or social integration were very present during all the days that the festival took place. There was also time for good sense of humour and Finnish irony in films like Järvi or Heitelläänhän Kääpiötäkin.

List of winners

Best Professional Documentary: Paanajärven Anni – Lasse Naukkarinen
Best Student Documentary: Nimeni On Alma – Johanna Vanhal
Best Professional Fiction Film: Luonto ja Terveys – Panu Heikkilä
Best Student Fiction Film: Painajaiset – Jan Forsström
Best Animation Film: Polle – Sara Wahl
Best Film not exceeding three minutes length: Äijät – Working group from the children and youth cultural centre Vernissa in Vantaa

Cinema Features

Someday a Real Snow Will Come

{mosimage}The movie is based on the 12-episode TV series Fragments (Irtiottoja) shown in Finland during the autumn of 2003 in which the taxi driver Veli-Matti was one of the main characters. At the same time as the series were filmed, the same crew did the shooting of Frozen City. “It was planned this way from the very beginning and both were done at the same time”, explains Louhimies, before the premiere of the film. “In addition to the series, we wanted to create something for the international viewers and the festivals”.

As a matter of fact, Frozen City has premiered in many festivals across the world during 2006. Recently, Aku Louhimies received the Robert Wise Award for Best Director at Flanders International Festival in Ghent, Belgium. “I’m really happy and surprised about the reception of the film”. It does not matter that the film is much attached to Helsinki, because “the theme and the story are universal”.

Veli-Matti’s drama drags him into the most painful situations of the human life. In the words of the actor Janne Virtanen, “a man who loves his children is willing to go all the way to get to keep them. To me Vellu is a positive, empathic and well mannered man. I wanted him to believe to the end that things are going to get better. This way I was able to react to every bad episode with astonishment and disbelief. That helped me make Vellu a bit slower and, if you will, not so bright (but not stupid either).”

Equally complex is the character of Veli-Matti’s ex-wife, Hanna, played by Susanna Anteroinen. The actress admits that “acting was sometimes hard because Hanna was so tired of everything, particularly her husband. She was depressed and she thought that getting divorced was only way to continue her life.“

Helsinki plays an important role as the scenario for the drama. The city is presented in a pessimistic way. “It is seen as a dirty city where unhappy people are living”, explains Susanna Anteroinen. “{quotes}The taxi driver Vellu hopes that the snow will come and cover everything that is sad and bad.{/quotes} He doesn’t belong to the city and he should live somewhere else with his family. Living in the city is not good for everyone”. Janne Virtanen agrees with this perspective of Helsinki, but he thinks “it is not probably the real Helsinki. Aku wanted to show international viewers his own version of the city. It is not that hopeless to live here”.

The film had a very low budget. These limitations allowed a wide creative freedom for the director. “It would have been difficult, otherwise”, Louhimies explains. “Finland is a very small country and it is not always possible to shoot these kinds of stories”. Even non-professional actors participated in the film, such as policemen and guards who appeared in the film performing their real duties.

Albums Music

Tom Waits – Orphans: Brawlers, Bawlers & Bastards

{mosimage}Orphans is divided into three parts, arranged by title and theme. The first disc, Brawlers, is the rock and blues album with the artist traveling across the darkest places of American music, from the demented rockabilly Lie to Me to a cover of the Ramones’ The Return of Jackie and Judy, and to the political song Road to Peace that narrates a suicide-bomber’s attack and its aftermath, based on a news article from the New York Times.

The second disc, Bawlers, includes the heartbroken ballads. It is a bar-room moment of sweet solitude as the piano is drinking and does the talking. There are some tunes from movie soundtracks and again the Ramones appear in a reinvented cover of Danny Says, which is one of the most desperate moments of the 20-song collection.

Finally, Bastards is the weirdness, the cabaret and carnival music. Musical experiments accompany twisted stories and the words of Charles Bukowski, Bretch &Weill. Tom Waits also delivers several of his specialties on stage: spoken-word performances, like the funny The Pontiac, which seems to have been recorded in a diner from a Jim Jarmusch movie.

The usual top-class guest musicians (Larry Taylor, Les Claypool, Marc Ribot and Charlie Musselwhite, among others) help Tom Waits, but the most outstanding instrument is the voice. The howls, the groans, the beat-box rhythms and the whispers of a broken voice define the world described by Orphans.

The first intention of this set might have been to create a compilation, but the results are certainly strange and messy. However, whatever else it may be, it definitely represents the multiple facets of the most unique and changing songwriter of the last 30 years.

Interviews Music

Expressionism Painted with a Jazz Guitar

{mosimage}Raoul was born in Los Angeles when his mother, the Finnish actress Taina Elg, worked for Metro Goldwyn Mayer in Hollywood. However, he was raised in New York, where he started to get interested in music. “There was so much to hear: the Art Emsemble, the Sam Rivers trio, Dave Holland… I got a lot of energy from that music”. As many other jazz musicians from New York have said, Björkenheim admits that the scene there is not as good at the moment: “You might make more money playing in the streets than in a jazz club”.

Although he’s educated in jazz music, Jimi Hendrix is still one of Björkenheim’s heroes. “If anybody asks me who the best jazz guitar player is, I always say Hendrix. The best guitar solo is Machine Gun”. But there is another great influence in Raoul’s playing and that does not come from any guitarist: “I like saxophone players more and John Coltrane is still the most expressive. I don’t try to copy him, but the spirit is something that I try to emulate”. With this influence, Raoul’s guitar-playing showcases textures and sounds that could get a definition similar to expressionism. Sometimes, like with the project Scorch Trio, the approach is close to violence when doing some improvisation. “But it’s in the sense of expressionism, not just to make noise and play loud. {quotes}Maybe we play too loud. Do we?{/quotes}”

Finland was always part of Raoul’s background. In the eighties he moved back to Helsinki and became very active in the jazz scene at the time. For eight years he worked at the jazz department of the Sibelius Academy. “I was the crazy man of the village”, he says. “We did a lot of free improvisation stuff. There I got to meet a lot of young guitar players that now are big names, like Jarno Saari and Kalle Kalima.”

In December, Raoul Björkenheim will premiere a new piece for full symphony orchestra with the Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra. “There will be echoes of African and Javanese music in this concerto for orchestra, with the percussion section playing an important role and each instrumental section having important solos to contribute.”

Photo © Maarit Kytöharju

Features Music

Ourvision, (Y)our Music!

OurVision, Caisa’s new enterprise and its biggest production to date, is a song contest for all the artists coming from the continents ‘left out’ of Eurovision.

It was Caisa’s director Johanna Maula who first considered the possibility of organizing a musical contest that would offer artists from non-European countries the chance to perform live.

The host of the contest will be California-born TV star and model -and member of OurVision steering committee- Aria Arai, who’s been living in Finland for 12 years. She explains that the catchy name of the competition, OurVision, indicates that musical talents from every corner of the globe are invited, and suggests a wider and less sterotyped musical scenario.

The deadline for submitting entries to the competition is December the 11th, while OurVision will start on the 19th of January. The participants, who don't necessarily need to have previous experiences in the field, will go through a series of trials and semifinals, organized according to their area of provenance: musicians from Latin America, Arab countries, Asia and Africa will perform in the LatinVision, ArabVision, AfroVision and AsiaVision trials and semifinals.

The winners will be declared on the 5th of May during a final gala evening, held at Caisa, just like the trials and the semifinals. Red carpet and VIPs and cameras flashes, just like a fancy music award gala!

While the possibility of a CD release, either a studio compilation or a live record, is still being discussed, it’s official that the May the 5th final will be aired by Lähiradio.

“We’ve already received a huge number of entries and we think that the AfricanVision might turn out to be the most crowded trial”, says Martta Louekari, Caisa’s information officer. “We look forward to great musical variety, as the group or soloist taking part in the competition can perform either in their own or in any other language, and they can choose to perform covers or their own compositions.”

The artists taking part in OurVision can count on a top-quality jury.

{quotes}The grand old man of the jury is the legendary Finnish jazz musician and composer Heikki Sarmanto{/quotes}. A different perspective is granted by the presence of Tidjan, leading vocalist of the Finnish supergroup Kwan. Other members of the jury will mirror the different musical ‘flavours’ of the competition.

Winners of OurVision will certainly get to be famous in Finland, but who knows if the next Youssou N’ Dour lives in Helsinki or the next Cheb Khaled in Tampere…

Entries for OurVision will be accepted up to the 11th of December.

Books Features

Helsinki Book Fair

The fair became a paradise for book lovers. The biggest names of the industry placed huge stands where you could find all the newly-released books, but there was also plenty of time to visit smaller stands where attendees could chat in a relaxed way, or even go inside a library bus where information about the city library network could be found.

Altogether there were more than 850 authors and speakers telling about their work, from big consolidated names as Arto Paasilinna to younger authors with big success like Riikka Pulkkinen. The readers had a chance to get a book signed by their favourite author and exchange some words, because the companies always try to create a good climate of communication between the visitors and the writers.

There was also place for big international names as the Swedish Mikael Niemi, or exotic authors like the Chinese Jung Chang and his controversial biography of Mao.

If reading is one of your passions, do not miss the fair next year!

Cover story Misc

Uncovering the Underground

{mosimage}Conrad, born in 1940, was in charge of the opening concert at the Kiasma Theatre. In the early sixties he was a seminal figure in the art scene in New York, being part of the legendary Theatre of Eternal Music with John Cale and La Monte Young, among others. Projecting his shadow on a white sheet while playing, he offered an hour-long nonstop piece of improvisation with an electronic violin. His compositions are based on what is known as minimalistic music.

Before the musical performance, the festival showed two of most acclaimed films by Tony Conrad, who graciously chatted about them with the audience. The “structural” short film Articulation of Boolean Algrebra for Film Opticals (1975) is a hypnotic succession of six patterns of alternating black and white stripes imposed upon the full surface of the film strip. In Conrad’s words, the film “literally unifies the optical and sound tracks. Both are the result of a design that follows an algorithmic system of stripes. The scale of the six stripes on the film strip positions them in relation to screen design, flicker, tone, rhythm, and meter, all with octave relationships”. On the other hand, the amusing Cycles of 3’s and 7’s is a sort of musical performance in which the harmonic intervals that would ordinarily be performed by a musical instrument are represented through the computation of their arithmetic relationships or frequency ratios.

{quotes}The festival’s programme was also devoted to rescuing the history of experimental Finnish films and video art.{/quotes} Several screenings were organized all over the weekend to show an array of underground Finnish films since the 1960s. This series of screenings was presented under the name of Sähkömetsä (Electric Forest), which is also the title of an upcoming book from the Finnish National Gallery which aims to document this forgotten story of Finnish filmmaking. Special emphasis was placed on the work of Pasi Myllymäki who showed his experimental works during the 1970s and 1980s in the original Super 8 format.

Following the tradition of tape music concerts, sound reproduction equipment took the stage on Saturday to play original works of Jim O’Rourke, who was a member of Sonic Youth and is responsible for Wilco’s latest sound and success. The festival commissioned and premiered works of O’Rourke and German composer Ralf Wehowsky.

Art Exhibitions

Photographs In The Green

{mosimage} Things Do Not Change
, a photographic exhibition by Carla Schubert, a Finnish-Austrian artist, comprises a series of black and white photographs portraying shapes and details of woods, trees, roots… The beauty of the undated and untitled photographs is underlined by their being associated with quotes from the book Walden written in 1854 by Henry David Thoreau.

Schubert, a psychologist by training and profession, has been active in the art world since 1992 with video, installations and photography, and has had her work on display in Austria several times, the last in Autumn 2005. Photographing is in the family: “My mother, a photographer, used to develop her own pictures, and I sort of grew up in the darkroom. Art for me is a very selfish exercise, it's all about oneself and one’s (the artist’s) views of the world. Working with other people is different; I can be of use to them, I can help them with their problems.”

“Walden has been one of my favourite books when I was a teenager. The times we live in now have brought it back to my mind. The things he says about the world’s restlessness and people often forgetting what's truly important, I think they fit perfectly into our lives as we live now. Everybody is just busy and stressed, nervous to achieve something,” says Schubert.

{quotes}Schubert’s photographs, and their Walden captions, suggest to us that from time to time it would be good to move away from our everyday hassle, and rest our eyes on a scene that doesn’t change as often as we change mobile phones.{/quotes} They are a reminder that maybe the way we live nowadays is neither the only or the best possible way to spend our lives.

The Winter Garden offers a luxuriant background with all kind of agaves and cactuses to the black and white pictures of Schubert. “The head gardener was very happy to have them there,” says the artist, whose next exhibition will be held in the spring, at the Zebra Gallery, Karjaa.

Helsinki winter garden, Hammarskjöldintie 1, 00250 Helsinki.

Opening hours: Mon closed Tue 09.00–15.00 Wed–Fri 12.00–15.00 Sat–Sun