Helsinki, Finland (culture swap)

young heroes

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Young Heroes

by Jouko Lehtola

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luonto (nature)

This photo series above is about Finnish youth culture in the 90's. What is significant to our culture is that in terms of area, it is the eighth largest country in Europe and the most sparsely populated country in the European Union; the population is only 5,5 million, and most of the people live in the south part of the country, leaving the Northern areas almost abandoned.

The country is covered with forest and lakes; nature is something that everyone grows up to appreciate. People who live far from the country side usually have a summer cottage for their family (my parents have actually two), traditionally in the middle of nowhere, ideally a small red house with sauna by the lake, where they can escape their normal lives.

Lehtola's photo series are honest portraits of kids who try their best to stand out, rebel against the norms. Suddenly spending the summer in the country side with the family isnt cool anymore; it's seen more like a punishment. But going to the nature with friends is a whole different thing: Kids drink a lot, and they love going in the middle of nowhere with a small group of friends where they can get wasted; nature is a familiar, safe environment to any Finnish people, and here we can explore our childhood surroundings and traditions again.

Especially the older we get, the more we appreciate it, which can be clearly understood by looking at Eyes Big As Plates, the photo series below, by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth:

"Starting out as a play on characters from Nordic folklore, Eyes as Big as Plates has evolved into a continual search for modern human’s belonging to nature. The series is produced in collaboration with retired farmers, fishermen, zoologists, plumbers, opera singers, housewives, artists, academics and ninety year old parachutists.

Since 2011 the artist duo has portrayed seniors in Norway, Finland, France, US, UK, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Sweden, Japan and Greenland. Each image in the series presents a solitary figure in a landscape, dressed in elements from surroundings that indicate neither time nor place. Here nature acts as both content and context: characters literally inhabit the landscape wearing sculptures they create in collaboration with the artists."

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eyes big as plates

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Eyes Big As Plates

Photo series by Riitta Ikonen and Karoline Hjorth

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femme en fourrure

 

— Music made for DJs and catwalks; also: for nightly promenades and oceanside sexin’.

 

The Finnish duo produce very dark electronic music; to me, the sound of their early stuff (they were absolutely perfect at Flow Festival 2013 before they changed their style very radically) gives me chills because it reminds me how is dark and depressing it is during the long, cold winter. The music video Bronco is shot in Helsinki where I lived since I was 17 and I just love how it shows our desperate need to break free from the city life.

Another video, The Beach, is showing the opposite; our summer is short, but it's beautiful as long as it lasts. Lot of people go away from the cities for midsummer; it's kind of magical to be surrounded by nature, makes us feel reborn and connected to our roots again. Summers feel kind of unreal because it only lasts about 2 months so people are always looking forward to it.

 

 

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