Free City of Kalasatama

In recent years, there has been a lot of temporary activities in Kalasatama, Helsinki, like Container Square, urban culture, graffiti, skating, Sompasauna and various events. I wanted to preserve the spirit of this Kalasatama, which has brought the much needed freedom to the city center. To create space for self-reliance, collaboration, art, culture, and people. And try, what we can achieve together.

And thus Kalasataman Vapaakaupunki, Free City of Kalasatama, was born

In the first phase of Kalasataman Vapaakaupunki Suvilahti became a new urban oasis for two months (18 May – 15 July 2018). Respecting the heritage of the area it is built using containers, which adapt to the scene of various events. In addition to the containers, there are also barbecue facilities and a park with urban gardening.

Kalasataman Vapaakaupunki is for us all. There anyone can arrange an event free of charge, as long as it’s open, free and fits with the values ​​and spirit of Vapaakaupunki. We also help with the arrangements and offer for example electricity, audio technology and also a sound technician for the event organisers free of charge.

Anyone can go to the Kalasataman Vapaakaupunki any time. Even if there is no program there, you can go for a picnic or just to spend a summer day there. We also offer grills for use when there are events happening in Vapaakaupunki.

Free City of Kalasatama became a big success in its first phase. In the course of two months, there were about 30 music events and, in addition, yoga, capoeira, sewing workshop and more special events such as a wrestling show.

The main partner of the project is the new REDI shopping center in the region, but it has not affected the content of the site in any way. And this is how you do good things together: by trusting people. Continuation for Vapaakaupunki is already planned.




Pasila Street Art District

Definitely the biggest and for me most important street art project, which I’ve been doing is Pasila Street Art District. For years I had thought that many gray walls in this 1970s area would be a perfect place for street art. In 2017, I finally did something to change the situation with Helsinki Urban Art. It was difficult to find funding for the project, but partly due to the 100th anniversary of Finland, many embassies and cultural institutes wanted to support the project and bring many top level international artist to paint in the area.

The artists curated for the project represent a wide variety of styles and techniques, and many of them have painted in different parts of the world. Pasila Street Art District introduces the kind of street art that is hard to come by elsewhere in Finland. It is a place where artists get lots of artistic freedom and can test their limits. Some artists are invited to paint with the help of our partners, but it is also a place where local artists can show their skills and visiting international artists can leave their mark.

By the autumn of 2018, the area has already got over 40 works of art, which has changed the look and image of the area completely. The previously forgotten area has begun to attract both Helsinkiers, tourists and school classes. And local people have finally got the color and art they wanted on their walls.




Helsinki Urban Art

Helsinki Urban Art is a non-governmental organisation specialised in urban art that I was founding in the beginning of 2017. The purpose of the association is to make art that enlivens urban environments in Helsinki as well as in other cities in Finland and abroad. We introduce new ways of using urban space, create participatory urban culture and solve problems by means of art and activism.

Helsinki Urban Art was created on the basis of the More Street Art in Helsinki -project that created several street art pieces in 2016 which enlivened the urban environment. Helsinki Urban Art expands this activity and brings even more art and more versatile forms of art into the urban space.

Helsinki Urban Art is formed by a group of professionals in visual arts, community arts and urban activism. Involving the communities and respecting the special characteristics of the places is important to us: we want the art that we create to really work in its environment and to suit the needs of the locals. Our team has a lot of experience in producing large murals, different sized street art pieces as well as coordinating large participatory art projects and different urban events. We also collaborate with many people working in the field of urban art both in Finland and abroad.





Activism Workshop for Students

The culture center Stoa in Helsinki asked me to be a part of a culture course that they were arranging for eight graders in the spring of 2016. In the workshops, named “taking over your neighbourhood with every-day activism”, the eighth graders from schools from eastern Helsinki took part in six-hour workshops. In the workshops, the students turned into activists for the day, and created a project or a performance in their school or in their neighbourhoods. Some of the projects the students did were making a proposal on how to improve the school lunches, and creating a new design for the school hallway. Several classes gave out free coffee to strangers passing by to cheer people up. The students giving out coffee ended up meeting all kinds of people, from old people to people in the streets, and the other way around: the people coming to get free coffee got a chance to update their view on teenagers. Some of the students got so involved with the project that they stayed to hand out free coffee even after their school day was finished.


Sauna Theatre Festival

In the beginning, there were sauna, theatre and festival. Then they said, “let there be sauna theatre testival.” And sauna theatre festival there was. What happens when you strip theatre down to its purest, and bring both the actors and the audience together to sweat? We found that out, when in November 2015 the sauna theatre festival turned the public Sauna Arla into a theatre stage. The sauna theatre festival brings a new dimension to both sauna and theatre. It combines culture and relaxation in a completely new way. People have been born, died and made love in the sauna – and now also acted.


Restaurant Wasted Space

Cities are full of spaces, with which you could do so much more. We fill them for a moment with good food, drinks, company and art. We invite friends and strangers. And see what’s cooking.

The restaurant Wasted Space (“waste space” in Finnish) is a concept created by myself, Jyrki Tsutsunen and Johanna Kunelius. The chef Jyrki Tsutsunen brings the flavours usually used only in fancy restaurants into new, more relaxed surroundings. The guests are in for a surprise menu made from the best ingredients in the season – and the price is reasonable for every budget. The atmosphere is finished by the interior design created by Johanna Kunelius and the visiting artists.

The restaurant Wasted Space got started with the idea to create a new restaurant that would be more relaxed, social, fun and interesting. The restaurant is set up always to one place at a time – and only for one night. Until now there have been restaurants in my home, at a gas station, in a furniture factory, old book press, former music shop, art museum, greenhouse and at a school yard. Check the Facebook page for further information or send me a message if you want to join in!

Living Room Exhibition

Living Room Exhibition brings art into people’s living rooms. For two days, private spaces are turned public, and into stages for contemporary art – bedrooms, living rooms, bathrooms, cellars, toilets, elevators and storage spaces are transformed into galleries and spaces for performances, and everyone is invited. The point is to break the traditional conception of private and public space. Art can be shown and seen elsewhere than just art museums and galleries. The living room exhibition brings art closer to people and offers them art experiences in a new context: in their everyday surroundings.

Living Room Exhibition got started when I was hosting the French Line Arhainx and German Rebecca Hirneise at my home in the fall of 2013, when they had just arrived in Finland and didn’t have a place to stay. Rebecca wanted to find somewhere to exhibit her photographs, but the gallery fees in Helsinki were too high for her. At the same time there were many other spaces in the city that could be used to host an art exhibition. Such as homes. So we decided to bring art into the homes of the people of Helsinki – and invite other artists to join us.

Living Room Exhibition has been organised two times, 21.-22.3.2014 and 21.-22.3.2015. On both of those occasions, 15 homes or spaces alike were changed into art galleries and there were pieces from about 40 different artists on display. 


Mole the Activist

I travel a lot, but don’t really take pictures of the traditional tourist sights, because everyone has already seen so many pictures of them. But what if you would combine them with something new and interesting?

Mole the Activist started with an idea I had while walking around in a flea market. On one of the tables, there was a little Mole key chain for sale, that was spreading his arms. I came up with an idea to combine this famous, smiling figure with somewhat different messages and activism.

I turned a grilling skewer into a stick, dug out a piece of cardboard from the trash and started crafting signs that Mole could use to protest against different social problems and fight for the rights of the less-fortunate. Mole the Activist travelled with me in Helsinki and throughout Europe to see the sights and protest for the local problems.


More Street Art in Helsinki

More Street Art in Helsinki is a project that I started with the street art group G-REX that uses street art to eliven the streets of Helsinki. The main goal of the project is to make large murals wherever in the city there is the biggest need for them. The project aims to raise the profile of legal, high-quality and world class mural art in Finland and offer alternatives for the commercial imagery in the urban space.

In the years 1998-2008 the city of Helsinki had zero tolerance policy for graffitis, which is why there hasn’t been a very strong street art culture in the city. In recent years the policies about street art have become more positive. We want to be a part of making progress with street art in Finland and show how many positive influences it can have.

In the summer of 2016 the project ran a contest called More Street Art For Your Hoods, where people could suggest places in Helsinki for new street art. Three winning locations were chosen, two of which are located in the neighbourhood of Kannelmäki and one in Roihuvuori. In September Maikki Rantala painted a participatory street art piece in Kannelmäki, on the wall of a building located at Trumpettitie 2. To Roihuvuori, at the address Prinssintie 4 we received a piece from the polish street artist Otecki. The third mural by Milu Correch will be painted on the wall of an elderly care home in the summer of 2017.

Through More Street Art In Helsinki anyone can now order street art to their own wall. The project will find the right artist for the location, deal with all the practical arrangements and take care of the necessary bureaucracy. We currently working on a model together with the city of Helsinki, which aims to make the acquiring of street art easier and decrease the unnecessary bureaucracy related to it.

In 2017 we created on the basis of the More Street Art in Helsinki -project a new association Helsinki Urban Art, which expands this activity and brings even more art and more versatile forms of art into the urban space.



Home Theatre Festival

After we changed homes into galleries in the Living Room Exhibition, I got the idea of developing the concept a bit further. If you can bring art exhibitions into your home, then why not theatre? And so a home theatre received a new – or old – meaning as the Home Theatre Festival changed homes into theatre stages for one week in February 2015 and November 2016. During the week, you could experience intimate or relaxed theatre in different places in Helsinki. The programme consisted of monologues performed by the students of the Theatre Academy and other actors. The performances were free, but you had to book a place beforehand. Every show was full, and the actors, inhabitants, guests and organisers were very satisfied.