X-OP Cultural Policy Group

Artists: Tatu Engeström, Kalle Hamm, Ritva Harle, Minna Henriksson, Mikko Lipiäinen, Antti Majava and Tero Nauha

The group was formed in the early summer 2010 when Bo Karsten, director of Art School Maa, and Johanna Fredriksson, producer working in the Helsinki-leg of X-OP network, invited some artists for meetings in Maa-Tila project space. According to the initial plan the purpose of the meetings was to come up with an artistic program for the then forthcoming X-OP Festival, which was organized to coincide with the X-OP meeting in Helsinki. In the meetings more urgent, than to propose individual artworks to the festival, seemed to be discussing the trends in the cultural policy of Finland.

At the time acute issues were the plans to completely restructure the Finnish Arts Council (but partly due to strong opposition by artist unions it did not happen), and the new cultural policy plan of the Ministry of Education and Culture, which was being prepared with a long-term span of the next 35 years (the plan got published last winter). Also, strong concerns were directed toward the overall shift in the cultural discourse and atmosphere in Finland toward neo-liberalism. Parts of this are high profile projects by the government, the cities and the private sector, where art is merely a branding tool of neighbourhoods, cities and the country. Also characteristic to neo-liberalism are preferences on an institutional level toward commercially oriented activities such as art fairs, private galleries and consulting agencies rather than supporting knowledge production in museums and research centres.

What all members of the cultural-political group X-OP have in common is that they regard art as an instrument for participating in debate and discussion in society rather than as a channel for autonomous and personal self-expression, and therefore address current local social and political issues in their work.

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KiBela / KIBLA Maribor, Slovenia

23 May 2011 – 30 May 2011

Production: MMC KIBLA
Support: EU-EACEA, Culture Programme, Brussels, Slovenian Ministry of Culture, Municipality of Maribor and Office of Youth
KiBela programme is part of the European X-OP project.
Photos: KID KIBLA Archive.