People in think tanks, municipal projects and universities in Helsinki have widened the scope of the question of freedom: Whose Europe do we mean when we talk about Europe? What privileges do we have and which ones could we give up to achieve greater equality? These ruminations boil down to a simple, but provocative, question: What cuts in our personal freedom must we accept in order guarantee freedom for all?
The Helsinki-Sofia tandem are working on several fronts. The STOA cultural centre invited Bulgarian artists Vera Mlechevska and Dimitar Shopov to Helsinki in September 2018 for a three-week residency to address the Finnish question: "What are the minimum rules we need in order to live together?” They made contact with local artists, and Mlechevska also conducted research on parasitic plants that drive out existing vegetation in urban areas. Her playfully metaphorical thesis is that nature is taking on human competitive, colonizing traits in the Anthropocene. A performance based on her research was held in late September at the Nomads Festival in Helsinki, along with a film and slide show by Dimitar Shopov.
Down in Sofia, the Luft-Studio on the ground floor of the Goethe-Institut is ready for action. This “Air Studio” is an empty, airy space intended to serve as a programmatic in-between realm, a literal Freiraum, or free space, a playful multi-functional venue for diverse ideas, people and formats.
In early October, the Goethe-Institut Sofia also hosted a workshop for teachers to discuss Sofia’s question about how to talk constructively about the experience of suffering in their day-to-day pedagogical practice. Teachers should help young people find ways of coping with experienced injustice that will not widen the divides that already exist in society.
Finnish-Bulgarian filmmaker Tonislav Hristov was also brought on board to put together a line-up of short films from both countries that take up both cities’ questions: What drives wedges into a society still damaged by past injustices, and what in turn holds society at least minimally together?
is a municipal arts centre in East Helsinki, an international part of the Finnish capital marked by its sizeable immigrant population. STOA’s orientation, particularly in its performing arts programmes, is international and contemporary, and the centre serves as a place for daily users to learn, read and socialize. STOA will also be hosting the Freiraum activities in September as part of its Nomads Festival.
BelgradeBarcelona & Madrid Is happiness possible regardless of or despite existing social conditions?
OsloMilan Who are you and how can we shape the present together?
ParisLjubljana If we had the Freiraum – the time and the space – to do exactly what we want to do together, what would we do?
RigaLyon How can we build a society that perceives diversity not as a threat, but as an enrichment?
HelsinkiSofia How many rules are necessary at the very least to live together?
SofiaHelsinki How can our society get back in touch with itself and overcome its internal rifts?
TiranaBudapest Is freedom a burden or an opportunity?
Milan OsloIs identity coexistence or conflict?
LyonRiga How can we pass on freedom?
Barcelona & MadridBelgrade Do the Roma embody the spirit of a Europe without borders?
Bucharest VilniusIf identity is like a fruit salad, how can we add tolerance as an ingredient to tie all the flavours together?
AmsterdamNaples How do we construct our individual and collective identity around the concept of freedom? We can we use freedom as a tool that includes without excluding and challenges our habitual ways of thinking?