We sat down with Johanna Råman, the new director of Institut finlandais, and asked her a few questions.

1. Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what is your background?

My name is Johanna Råman and my background is mostly related to music. Previously, I worked in a multidimensional music event called Meidän Festivaali (Our Festival), which is organized in Tuusulanjärvi, Finland. I had the pleasure to collaborate on the project with violinist Pekka Kuusisto, the festival staff and the many artists and researchers that were involved in the festival. This August I started my new dream job as the director of the Finnish Institute of France in Paris.

2. What kind of things would you like to promote in the institute’s direction?

I would like to advocate beauty, diversity, empathy, being curious and courageous. I would like the institute to continue in its role as a meeting place in the heart of the Latin Quarters of Paris. Environmental questions are very important to me. I would like to see and explore with my new colleagues these aspects: to which extent it is possible to take into consideration these questions in the daily life of the institute?

3. How do you see the institute’s future?

We aim to be a better-known and more international actor. At the moment, we are planning new initiatives in the Maghreb area. A platform for dialogue, an open-minded, active and forward-looking institute: these aspects will be even further strengthened in the upcoming years.

4. What kind of questions are important to you?

I am happy when I am surrounded by nature, the sea and my loved ones, but also art, train rides and good vegetarian food make me happy. I value shared moments and encounters between people: the kind that allows one to stop and to think about life and dreams.

At the moment I follow closely the multidimensional poetry of our time and art that takes a stand on important matters, as well as the questions related to indigenous people and their relationship with nature. Slow journalism proposes a good balance to the otherwise hectic rhythm of the daily life. I like to listen to the radio while at home, or alternatively jazz music or J.S. Bach.

One particularly important spot for me is a skerry about the size of 350×150 meters, located in the Sea of Åland in the most western point of Finland. I remember one week of September spent there in the company of two elderly people. This encounter taught me a lot about manhood.

5. What do you think about today’s France and Paris?

The last time I lived in Paris was ten years ago. The city is an intriguing metropolis with plenty of different realities. I also feel as if Paris would have opened up in new ways in the past years.

I particularly appreciate the relationship that France has with culture and civilisation, which can be seen in the flourishing little bookshops, culture for cinema and everyday politeness. I admire the intelligent and lively conversational culture, the joy of living and spending time together. Even a bank clerk may strike up a conversation about culture in the middle of sorting out your finances.

I’m excited to meet many new and inspiring collaborators, share the message of good coffee with our collaborators Café Coutume, drink some mint tea at the courtyard of the Grand Mosquée de Paris, swim in a nearby art deco swimming pool, and of course follow and participate in the vast selection of cultural events in the city. The possibility to travel within a few hours Lyon, London or Amsterdam by train inspires me.

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