From 14 to 20 September, our Finnish partner ANTI Festival held its second lab in a particular place. With the desire to always build bridges and cross boundaries between audiences and artists, our Future DiverSocieties lab took place in the suburb of Kuopio, at the Pinari youth center in the district of Petonen. Let’s take another look at this artistic intervention, attentive to local communities, artistically diverse, and deeply human.
Before their first meeting during the lab, artists Joseph O’Farrel, Nastja Säde Rönkkö, Davor Sanvincenti, Anne Roquigny, Emma Fält, Eerika Jalasaho, Ilkka Kivelä, Anniina Aunola and Chris Higgins, their facilitator from The Map Consortium (UK), met over Skype. If we assume that this work was done at a micro level what about the macro? The keystone of this creative adventure is without doubt, the artist Anniina Aunola working at the youth workers office of Pinari for 2 years. After taking part in the first ANTI lab in Kuopio in 2016 with Chris Higgins, and with an accurate knowledge of Petonen, Annina brought her experience within the artists group to be always closer to the Petonen communities.
“Petonen area has its own profile. Known as an area where lot of city owned housing are around. There is the biggest population of immigrants in Kuopio. Petonen has also the biggest cultural and youth center of Kuopio. It’s is a nice combination of needs and resources.”
Annina, local artists about Petonen district.
The artists and their facilitator have been in Pinari for one week. Coming from Kuopio to Petonen, takes 8 kms by bus, back and forth, every day. Over the first two days, each artist led a mini-workshop to present themselves to the whole artist group. It was a way to offer an overview of their skills and knowledge that were available in the team.
“Chris has a nice way not to schedule too tightly the lab but in between doing our brainstorming he gave the inputs to gather the things. I felt that everybody was happy to know more about what has been done before here. Then, there has been really good artist presentation about they work approach.”
Annina, local artists about facilitator methodology
Introduction done, then came the time for the observation and the strategy. How would they reach the youth community? What kind of things do they like? What things do they do? One of the answers came from the etymology of Petonen, because “Peto” means beast in Finnish. And, it seems that there is a kind of pride or joke to be the ‘beast of Kuopio’. So the artists took little animal figurines (also seen during the farmer ‘Overmapping’ lab in Kuopio in 2016) and they labeled them ‘Please, Be Kind and Bring me back to Pinari Youth Center’ and they dropped them all around the neighbourhood.
“It was a lesson that we took for the last lab to not structure it too strictly’ and just let see what happen. 18 animals came back for 40 or 50 dispatched all around Petonen.”
Chris Higgins, facilitator
And step by strep, artists started to see things happen. For instance, a group of young women for Petonen that have a tribe were wearing special makeup. This chimed exactly with the “Peto” of Kuopio. With the knowledge of Annina about Pinari and Petonen, the artists suggested different type of activities and workshops that they could do with the youths of Petonen. The starting point of the open day lab was the ‘10 Minutes Dance Parties’ led by Joseph O’Farrel. The other artists decided to build around the performance a series of activities for the youth of Petonen. The French artist, Anne de Roquingy is currently working with interesting technologies such as DJing with live internet content. One of Anne’s ideas was to create an open Instagram account where people could update their own image of the beast of Petonen at @Pinaripeto. On the account you can find animals, portrait of people, drawings. The artist dropped the password and account all around Petonen, inviting people to take part of the lab in many different ways (in real life and digitally). The artists had the idea to build a new bridge: a virtual bridge between the main square of Kuopio and Petonen through the instagram feed of Pinari Peto.
“This Future DiverCities idea has been about technology and multimedia. I’m not familiar with all this things but I’m super happy to have the luck to be around this equipments. It’s kind of touching the project aim: that not only the artists that are using technology and new media can be involved and learn.”
Annina, local artists about the technologies used during the lab
With the desire to show something from the street and to create activities that the youth of Petonen would like, our artists team held a wheelie jam session in the Pinari center.
“Nobody was suggesting it as an artistic input but we saw so much this thing done by the youths around us. We thought about the strengths of this bike trick and we realized that the kids loved to show their wheeling skills. So it wasn’t a 100% educational project to organize this wheeling jam session but they learned a lot from performing art through it.”
Annina, local artists, about the Wheelie Jam session
It seems that this artists lab was a very special experience both for the artists and for the participants. All the activities touched different art fields, esthetics and methods brought perhaps by the heterogeneity of the group and followed a strong co-creation dimension.