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According to Markus Nummi Finland is going through some great revolutionary changes. The most recent exhibition at Kiasma contemporary center for arts focuses on "Finnishness".
The relationship of contemporary art to traditional art rather closely resembles the relationship of modern Finnishness to (traditional) Finnishness.
A modern urban Finn has just placed something at the side of traditional Finnishness, something to be seen, heard, touched, smelled, or tasted which we would not recognise as Finnishness.. A traditionally Finnish group always includes a modern Finnish troublemaker.
Like Finland, art is one of the words which have in the older tradition served as a label for various grand and noble ideas. Both serve as fairytale lands of pure inspiration and pure sisu, that side of the wide ocean of everyday life. Provocation has become increasingly difficult in both realms.
Finland was invented and put into industrial production in the 1800s, art perhaps somewhat earlier. According to an anonymous tip-off, the roots of the contemporary art world are to be found in the same place as the roots of Finland - Romanticism.
But there is a small distinction between art and Finnishness. To me one of the most charming Finnish characteristics is a distinct shyness. An honest, uncontrollable shyness.
But art cannot be shy. An artwork wants the exact opposite. At its most silent it whispers: look at me. Usually it thunders: listen to me, touch me, surrender to me.
The distinction may not be significant. There is evidence that it will not exist much longer.