Institut finlandais began its activity in Paris in autumn 1990. During these past thirty years, its activities have highlighted contemporary themes of changing times with artists and professionals from fields as varied as art, science, culture and creative industries. An open and curious mind, desire to meet and connect people, creativity and international cooperation have been at the heart of the Institute’s activities since the beginning.

In spring 2020, this polyphony was reflected in Finland in a historical way when the national broadcasting company YLE published and shared news content related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Finnish, Swedish, Sámi, Arabic, Kurdish, Dari and Somali. During the spring, a broader discussion was opened on anti-racist work in the activities of art organizations, communities and networks in Finland. Within the arts, it is important to reflect on change, to work towards a pluralistic world, and to be open for new perspectives.

Throughout the season, we have wanted to work with many new partners and expand and deepen the dialogue in our operations. The Institut finlandais’ autumn/spring 2020-2021 programme and this publication reflect the current debate on origin, identity, multilingualism, civilization, solidarity, preservation of cultural heritage and colonialism. Our autumn program engages with the politics of memory and belonging, layers history with the present, yet still looks ahead. It has been produced through many numerous discussions, artist residencies and encounters between Marrakech, Tangier, Tunis, Paris and Helsinki, among others. International cooperation has been actively pursued during the year 2020 without physical encounters in a situation that has put familiar mindsets and practices into consideration for alternative options.

Last year, author Hassan Blasim commented on his neighborhood in Helsinki in the national newspaper Helsingin Sanomat: “I enjoy living in Kontula. This is where you can see true Finland.” The institute wants to strengthen the international debate in the context of different artistic and creative fields and highlight the voices of professionals of different fields who represent and enrich contemporary Finland, from artists to researchers, and from curators to chefs and translators. A sincere and heartfelt thank you to everyone who has contributed to this publication and this season’s programme.

I hope that the next thirty years of Institut finlandais will continue to be filled with an open, curious and empathic atmosphere, and that the art of encounter will remain in the heart of the work.

– Johanna Råman, Director of Institut finlandais

Foreword part of the Institut finlandais publication 2020-2021.

Photography: Aurélien Mole