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7th Annual Aleksanteri Conference
November 29 - December 1, 2007
The Aleksanteri Institute, University of Helsinki, Finland



Contact Information
(Not for submissions):

Unioninkatu 33 (P.O.Box 42)
FI-00014 University of Helsinki

phone +358-(0)9-191 23631
fax +358-(0)9-191 23615

Aleksanteri Conference <>

The Aleksanteri Cultural Fora

Parallel to the Academic Conference, a series of cultural events were organised in Helsinki and other capitals around the Baltic. These Aleksanteri Cultural Fora were open to conference participants.


0. The Raw, The Cooked and The Packaged
The Archive of Perestroika Art

Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art >>

"The Raw, The Cooked and The Packaged" excavates the choices and power mechanisms involved in ‘making history' by manifesting this process as lived (installation), mediatized (archival and audio-visual documents) , made scientific (archival categorization) and reflexively absorbed into society (socio-cognitive maps). This is all connected through a process of language -game and memory construction made physical, such that the audience itself steps into the (art-) historical process of choosing from the massive archive of archives accumulated outside of hitherto ‘approved history'. The viewer is given insight and personal experience of separating this archive into categories (Greek {kappa}{alpha}{tau}{eta}{gamma}{omicron}{rho}{giacu}{alpha}, ‘accusation', ‘assertion', ‘predication'), applying concepts, and thus the writing of history.

(Opening of the "Archival Room" at KIASMA MUSEUM during the 7th Annual Conference)


I. The "Raw Materials" Cultural Panel

Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art >>

Cultural Panel - a public discussion including keynote speakers of the conference and cultural figures, addressing the Kiasma exhibition and the art and of the perestroika period.

Partner Institutions/Events (more to be confirmed):

The 7th Annual Aleksanteri Institute Conference
The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts
FRAME (Finnish Fund for Art Exchange)
Index - Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm
U-Turn Quadrennial for Contemporary Art, Copenhagen , Denmark
St. Petersburg-based cultural centres and events (to be announced)


II. A Dedicated Issue of FRAMEWORK - The Finnish Art Review >>

This special issue of Framework, Finland's leading English-language review is being produced and edited in association with the Aleksanteri Cultural Fora and its curators Ivor Stodolsky and Marita Muukkonen.


III. Perestroika in Cinema The Finnish Movie Archive SEA: Movie Theatre Orion, Eerikinkatu 15 >>

SEA (Suomen elokuva-arkisto, The Finnish Movie Archive) is presenting a series of Soviet films in cooperation with Aleksanteri Institute. 20 years ago the changes that ravished the Eastern neighbour of Finland were shown in a more liberal and more daring film industry. This development was, however, cut short by the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. A documentary "Elokuva vangitsee aikaa" ("Movie captures time", 1990) by Markus Viljanen and Pentti Stanius will be shown to provide background information. The movie, that includes unique interviews with film-makers, builds a bridge from the 1960's to perestroika, highlighting the pressures that were waiting to be released from the strict rules of the Soviet Union's film culture.

A memory of the totalitarian past reigns over many of the period's important works. “Ystäväni Ivan Lapshin” (“My Friend Ivan Lapshin“, 1984) by Aleksey German, is considered by many to be the most important Soviet movie of the 1980’s, and it was finished already before glasnost. Its sympathetic main character, a police officer, is going about his everyday jobs in the middle of 1930’s. That is to say, he is walking around arresting “criminals” and “saboteurs”. The corruption and blind horror of Stalin's terror filters through the film's subtle hints and tones.

The viewpoint in Vadim Abdrashitov’s “Miespalvelija” (“Manservant”, 1986) changes between the 1950’s and today. It describes a Stalinist party leader and his servant, whose roles have been reversed in the course of time: the party leader has turned into a vagrant while the servant has become a successful conductor. This intensive chamber drama digs into the two elements of the Soviet society: its hindmost cynicism and the baggage of the past brought to this day.

The Georgian master Tengiz Abuladze’s “Katumus” (“The Remorse“, 1986) caused jaws to drop with its bravery both at home and abroad. The movie set in 1930’s Georgia is a surreal satire about Stalin’s era and the entire Soviet system. On the other hand it is a philosophical and melancholy consideration of evil and power. “What good is a road that does not lead to a church?”, it asks.

The new generation also made a loud statement. “Lähetti” (“The Messenger”, 1986) by Karen Shahnazarov is a true eighties teen movie in Soviet style. Its hero, an estranged idler worms his way into better circles alongside his new girlfriend. The Soviet youth simply adored this charmingly unconventional hero.

The voice of the dissatisfied youth was channelled into characteristic Russian rock-music that now rose from the cellars into the limelight. In Sergei Solovyev’s experimental post-modern cult classic “Assa” (1987) the songs are by the Leningrad-born Boris Grebenshchikov, and the movie ends in the explosive perestroika hymn “Khotchu peremen” by the band Kino.

“Pikku Veera” (“Little Vera”, 1988) by Vasili Pichuli broke many taboos and once and for all trashed the tradition of embellishing the reality in Soviet film. Its vulnerable main character lives a life shadowed by alcoholism, violence and general lack of views in the Ukrainian outback. The plain realism, black humour and most of all exceptionally well achieved female point of view made it a sensation.

One dimension in the movie culture of the late 1980’s were late premiers of the movies that had previously been censored. Few even knew about the existence of “Komissaari” (“The Comissar”, 1967/88) before perestroika. In the movie a female Red Commander withdraws from the throes of the revolution into a small village to give birth. The strong Jewish theme was likely to be the reason that the brilliant first movie tragically destroyed its director, Aleksandr Alskoldov’s career. He never made another movie.


IV. The Glasnost' Collection Exhibition

The Slavonic Library of the Finnish National Library>>

The Glasnost’ Collection Exhibition November 29th 2007 – April 30th 2008
The Slavonic Library of the Finnish National Library, Unioninkatu 36

Read more

Helsinki is home to one of the world's leading research libraries in Slavonic scholarship. The Slavonic Library of the National Library of Finland was one of very few deposit libraries of the Russian Empire. Its rare collection is also uniquely preserved and very easy to access - often right off the shelf. For a general search of all University libraries go to Items marked H3 are in the Slavonic library.