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Filming of IHME Project 2014. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

IHME Project 2014: True Finn - Tosi suomalainen, by Israeli artist Yael Bartana 0

Every year the IHME Contemporary Art Festival produces a commissioned work of art in a public space. The festival programme is based on the content of the annual IHME Project. As Paula Toppila from the festival team explained to us - IHME is a unique festival in its focus on producing only one new commission in the public realm from an internationally recognized visual artist every year, since 2009. The rest of the programme - talks, discussions, workshops, artists' films - aims to open up perspectives to the contents and themes of this particular artwork, and to produce knowledge around contemporary art and society.

This year’s work commissioned for the IHME Contemporary Art Festival was the film True Finn – Tosi suomalainen, by the Israeli artist Yael Bartana.

Filming of IHME Project 2014. Photo: Veikko Somerpuro

“Yael Bartana (born 1970) is an Israeli artist living in Berlin. She has dealt with issues like one's homeland, belonging, return and national identity in several of her works, often deriving from her native Israel’s problematic situation. She is a strong visualist and her work both appeals to the intellect and raises strong emotions” – is how Paula Toppila introduces the artist. “The IHME Contemporary Art Festival’s expert team invited her to make the 2014 IHME Project because her art interestingly combines real events and phenomena, imagination, and the opportunity that art gives us to see reality differently. Consequently, Bartana’s art is not just symbolic – her works are often actions in real places and social situations. The team was interested in the social and contentious character of Bartana’s art. Her artistic approach represents a different attitude and medium from those of previous IHME-Project artists, which is an additional aspect that makes her an interesting artist to present to IHME’s public.”

You can watch the film  until December 31, 2014 - here.

In her IHME Project, Yael Bartana takes up a highly topical issue. She asks: How does national identity operate as a means of inclusion and exclusion? What mechanisms exist for this in Finland? Can an immigrant become a true Finn? The artist wanted to invite people living in Finland, and with different ethnic, religious and political backgrounds, to take part in creating a utopian moment in Finland. What happens when they have to live together for seven days and define themselves through one another? In the film you follow along with the assignments the participants have been given, like designing a new flag for Finland and composing new lyrics for the Finnish national anthem, as well as the many discussions they had during the week about who is a “true Finn”. Bartana also uses archival material from films that show stereotypical images of not only Finns, but also the indigenous people – the Sámi and Roma people.