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, KromiStreet 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“.

Graffiti gallery

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.

2 thoughts on “finland”

  1. Ricardo Bravo said:

    Es una pena que en Finlandia el arte callejero como es el graffites sea muy oprimido con reglas o leyes que hacen limitar la libertad de crear un mundo de colores y creaciones para compartir las ideas y mensajes que lo pueden interpretar cada persona, el arte de los graffites en las calles es el desafio de las expresiones y mensajes de cada autor, es la palabra, el idioma y pensamiento para interpretar, puede dar alegrías como tristeza.
    En Chile en un lugar tras otro se puede tropezar con graffites en las calles, siempre hay algo que ver y apreciar, muchos colores vivos como colores a punto de morir por ser graffites muy viejos, siempre un mensaje de algo, los artistas (graffiteros) con pocos recursos logran grandes sueños, de un simple bosquejo en un papel arrugado a veces nace una gran obra que estaría tal vez por poco tiempo antes de ser reemplazada por otro graffites o por campañas politicas,la vida de un graffites es relativo puede estar por años o simplemente dias en un lugar exponiendo sus colores y motivo, amiga Tarja es verdad lo que dices en tu block, el arte callejero debe vivir y no estar es un estado represivo como era en los tiempos de la edad media que no se podia pensar libremente, ANIMO y adelante con tu investigación.

    • Gracias por tu pensamiento, amigo. Ahora justamente, mirando la nieve atraves de la ventana, pienso que no solamente la ley, la policia y la oposición moral, pero tambien el clima limita cuando y donde los graffiteros finlandeses pueden (y quieren) hacer obras más complejas y impresionantes. Tal vez no buscan solamente clandestinidad pero tambien protección contra la lluvia, el viento y el frío del invierno finlandes en los interiores deteriorados y abandonados o los túneles bajo las carreteras.

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