Graffiti in Finland
After the visual variety and richness of the Chilean graffiti scene, it has been difficult not to feel disillusioned about what I have seen in Finland so far. I think this feeling is apparent in my blog post about the photowalk I made on January 14th 2012 near to where I live: looking for graffiti – finding ghosts.
Although a stroll of less than two hours around a small suburban area is not enough on its own to give a proper view into the state and features of Finnish graffiti, it did confirm what I have seen, read and heard before from other people and on the Internet (see e.g Katutaide, Kromi, Street Art in Helsinki). In Finland unauthorised graffiti in all its forms has been fundamentally considered vandalism and as such illegal and punishable. There was a nationwide campaign against it, running between 1998-2008 called, ”stop töhryille” (≈stop tagging or smearing), which caused a lot of heated discussions involving both the opponents and the proponents of street art, including the makers (see e.g. Millions spent on anti-graffiti project and Stop töhryille kalpaisi Madadventuresiin).
Even if the campaign is officially over, it seems that the more elaborate, skilful pieces can still only be painted on out-of-sight surfaces in desolate places and abandoned derelict buildings where the security firms don’t bother to patrol too often. But, looking through the window of my warm apartment into the winter scenery with snow-covered ground, trees, cars, and buildings, I realise that it probably isn’t just the security firms and disapproval of their fellow citizens but also wind, rain, snow, darkness, and freezing cold that make the covered and closed spaces attractive to graffiti painters in Finland, at least during winter.
What about authorised or “legal” graffiti? In Chile I followed two graffiti painters through a neighborhood asking house owners, door to door, for permission to paint on their wall and I saw how they finally got permission and started their work (see watching the birth of a piece). I also saw the huge outcomes of a major graffiti project in San Miguel, painted with the permission of the community (see Museo del Cielo Abierto en San Miguel). In Finland at present it would not be enough to ask the owners, whose hands are tied and minds are oppressed by laws and regulations, not to mention residents’ committees. In Finland the only legal graffiti can be painted and seen during special graffiti events and festivals, or in a few carefully chosen places designated by the city, with surfaces specifically erected for that purpose. However, things appear to have taken a positive turn in this respect recently, as you can read in my blog post “a late graffiti update from Finland“.
Below I will present my graffiti photos from Finland. I begin with my findings from the photowalk of January 14th, adding more photos and information as I proceed with the study. I will organise the photos by time and place, from oldest to the newest.
Click any thumbnail image to start viewing the photos. You can enlarge and view closer most of the photos by clicking the “permalink” button below each photo.