How do you reach beyond an institution? How can you break the rigidity and self-satisfaction associated with it? One answer is to create partnerships and operating methods that challenge truisms.
Kiasma is literally a crossroads. Obligated by its name, it has positioned itself in the field of art and culture as a place that enables various encounters and the flow of things and ideas. Kiasma is a complex entity of values and actions, which repeatedly reclaims its position in the field, which moves, changes and at times either consciously or unconsciously escapes definition. The field of contemporary art is wide and rough at the edges as you would expect from contemporary artistic expression.
URB, or the festival of urban art, is a project that has reshuffled values and ideas about culture production in Kiasma. URB has not changed its basic idea but it has "broadened the significance of operations to include new audiences. By persistent co-operation in the eastern suburbs of Helsinki - by offering courses, summer jobs and festival programmes - it has inserted itself in a positive, even effortless, way into the cultural diversity of the city. Viewed from the Kontula suburb, Kiasma looks different than from the city centre quarter of Kruununhaka. The URB on Tour has taken us around Finland, and Kiasma does not look the same when viewed from the town of Heinola either. Movement creates knowledge that for its part guides the choices of a cultural institution.
URB has changed over the years. It has striven to maintain its connection with the artistic movement created by the hip hop culture but other phenomena of urban culture have been raised by its side. URB has never really been a subculture festival even though its aim has been to preserve the diversity and tolerance expressed by subcultures. The obligation of presenting their own time is tangible for those working in the field of contemporary art but answers to the challenges posed by it are partly based on guesswork and risk taking. Contemporary art is a part of the present, which demands an active dialogue with the surrounding reality from an institution like Kiasma.
The conceptions of new reality are formed only with time. Therefore, an art institution that co-exists in this time with the citizens must join them where the changes are already forming the future.
URB festival director