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Finnish Institute Arts Officer receives an award for his work

Jali Wahlsten, the Arts Officer of the Finnish Institute, has received an award for the ‘Aesthetic achievement of the year’, presented by the Finnish Association of Aesthetics.

The award is made for a cultural event (a play, a series of plays, a performance, a project), a publication or work (not including individual novels, collections of poetry or other works of art), a decision that has promoted aesthetic values in the natural or cultural environment, or other projects that clearly support aesthetic values.

The judges selected Wahlsten in recognition of his innovative work with the Finnish Institute in London. They thought that the Institute’s cultural profile had been significantly enhanced by a series of events far removed from Finland’s usual cultural offerings.

"Skilfully engineered ‘happenings’, such as the appearance of the male voice choir, Huutajat, at carefully chosen venues, the inspired decision to invite artists and art galleries in London to watch an ice-hockey match, and the ‘cool’ Independence Day parties have bolstered the Institute’s reputation while at the same time creating a mould-breaking image of ‘Finnishness’ and Finnish aesthetic culture.

"Instead of attempting to market Finland on a grand scale, Jali Wahlsten has confined himself to precisely targeted cultural sharp-shooting, with events that are revealing and thought-provoking, and where the primeval force of the artist’s performance combines with the unexpected. This sort of ‘arctic charisma’ conveys just the right kind of message of self-esteem and pride.

"Not only has his work proved a welcome departure from the traditional approach, but underlying it is a daring questioning of the difference between popular and elite culture. Jali Wahlsten’s background is the ideal starting-point for the task he has set himself: professional ice-hockey player, aesthete, arts promoter and producer, his inventiveness is combined with academic self-discipline, and the result is well thought-out, pure, and indisputably Finnish."

The award, established in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Association, is being presented for the first time. From now on it will be awarded annually. There is no prize money involved: instead, the Association wants to bring to people’s attention a person, institution or event that has had a major influence on aesthetic culture.


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