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Flow Festival Interview part I: Alina Mänttäri-Buttler

The highlight of the Finnish festival summer was celebrated last weekend as Flow Festival 2017 took place at Suvilahti in Helsinki. The festival was organised for the 14th time and was advertising itself as renewed and better than ever. Changes were indeed visible and despite 25 000 daily visitors the festival had become more spacious through the broadened festival area. Most importantly, this year the festival had also made more space than ever for art in it’s program. Finnish Art Agency had the pleasure to visit the festival and take a closer at Flow Festival’s unique video installation partnership with the distinguished Helsinki art gallery Forum Box.

Openness, embracing all forms of art and enriching the Finnish cultural life are amongst other values in the mission of the artist-run co-operative society Forum Box. Therefore it is no surprise that bringing art into new and unconventional spaces is not unknown to the gallery either. We interviewed the Executive Director Alina Mänttäri-Buttler about how the gallery has been working towards this goal at Flow and how the unique collaboration was originally sparked.

How did the collaboration between Forum Box and Flow Festival start? Why bring contemporary art to a festival?

Alina Mänttäri-Buttler: We at Gallery Forum Box came up with the idea to collaborate with Flow Festival. During the past years we have been creating new ways to do cooperations and exploring where and how contemporary art is shown. Flow is one of the most interesting operators in the area of urban culture in Helsinki and naturally, the festival is a great platform for bringing music and art together. We contacted Flow with our idea – and that’s how it all started.

The collaboration has an emphasis on film and animation. How did you end up choosing these artworks for the festival?

Alina Mänttäri-Buttler: The idea to concentrate on video art came from the festival. They had a vision to develop Flow Festival’s art program towards a broader selection by bringing the art on the buildings in the area. We were inspired by the idea and started working on it in collaboration.

How was the process of working together from the start to selecting the artists and mounting the final artworks at the festival area?

Alina Mänttäri-Buttler: After making the decision of bringing the emphasis on video art, a list of potetial artists was presented to the team at Flow. From this bunch of talented artists three were eventually chosen. Juhana Moisander, Pasi Rauhala and Timo Wright who all through their artworks contribute to the Flow atmosphere.

What is your opinion on the status of contemporary art at festivals and other events in the future? Has art become the new real capital of music festivals?

Alina Mänttäri-Buttler: I believe there will be more room for collaborations such as this in the future. Many festivals are already developing into overall experiences offering not only music but also visual experiences and food culture. I also find valuable that untraditional collaborations create new channels for reaching new audiences.

Are the artworks at the festival for sale? How do you see a festival as a platform for selling art?

Alina Mänttäri-Buttler: The artworks presented at Flow are for sale. However, instead of sales I think the value of this collaboration lies primarily in the way it supports the festival art program and presents the gallery and artists to a new audience.

If you had to choose one art experience at Flow Festival, what would it be?

Alina Mänttäri-Buttler: The overall experience in the darkening summer night when the artworks of our artists blend with the Flow soundscape.

In the second part of our report from Flow Festival we will be interviewing the three artists Forum Box chose to participate in the festival’s art program.

Flow Festival 2017, Helsinki, Finland, photography Ninni Vidgren

Photos: Ninni Vidgren / Finnish Art Agency