[En] News: “Skills of Economy – Post Models: Ore.e Refineries (Exhibition and events)”.

SIC Space (Location / Facebook)

7.6. – 20.7.2014 (closed 19.6.-22.6.2014)

Skills of Economy – Post Models: Ore.e Refineries is the first in a series of exhibitions and events that will seek to understand the meaning of artistic practice at a time when the welfare state is in the process of being dismantled. This exhibition explores the work of the Ore e. Refineries organisation spanning the past eight years. The exhibition is part of curator Jussi Koitela’s Skills of Economy project.

Over the past two decades, neo-liberalism has sought to turn the state into a corporation, devoid of values other than those of financial success. This has changed, and will continue to change, the state’s relationship with art, artists and cultural institutions alike and forces the art field to justify its activities and access to funding in a completely new way.

In Finland, the post-welfare state has adopted a neo-liberal model that places prime responsibility for the individual’s welfare on the individuals themselves, alongside outsourced global and local providers. The objective of this model is to establish a service provider corps consisting of commercial enterprises tasked to operate as efficiently as possible and, ultimately, provide all public services in lieu of the state. It is, the argument goes, the only effective option currently available and, as such, the only possible means of delivering public services in the current and future demographic context.

“Post-model” is a term used to describe a time when the economy and public administrations along with politics itself will have become fully de-politicised entities, as if we were living in a time devoid of ideologies and the societal models and ideas they engender. The management of our shared public affairs through parliamentary democracy is reduced to a managerial, care taker-like activity governed by rationality, in which values must not be allowed to interfere with the business of actual decision-making.

Seen from a different perspective, the “post-model” in the title of this exhibition could also be taken to mean a time post the model described above. What forms might artistic activity take in the future and what sort of societal models might that activity open up? How can art make a critical contribution to ensuring the equal delivery of services such as transport, manufacturing, planning and archiving in the society of the future?

Ore.e Refineries was founded by artist Eero Yli-Vakkuri and blacksmith and designer Jesse Sipola and focuses on promoting craftsmanship in the digital era. It operates somewhere in the middle ground between art, design and service provision to create both artworks and services that seek at once to resolve and understand the challenges arising from the current neo-liberal, global and digital reality in the areas of precarious labour, commodities, production, consumption, environmentalism and transport.

The organisation’s activities are characterised by their highly speculative nature. Rather than creating art, design and services in keeping with the implicit demands of the current climate, their work generates meaning through an imagined set of new social, environmental and economic circumstances.

Artists presented in the Ore.e Refineries Meta- Collection – Artifacts from the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Jussi Koitela, Paula Lehtonen, Kalle Mustonen, Eero Nelimarkka, Pekka Ruuska, Record Singers (Heiskanen, Nevalainen, Väisänen & Airas), Iidu Tikkanen, Lauri Wuolio and Topi Äikäs

Exhibition and the practice of Ore.e Refineries is supported by Koneen säätiö and Uudenmaan taidetoimikunta.

[En] Introduction to “Parallel Ads”.

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Instead of making counter ads and jamming consumer culture Parallel Ads is an attempt to redirect cash flows away from corporations to small independent entrepreneurs. It is an effort to support marginalised industries (such as crafts and ethical foods) by making them look sexier then their corporate counterparts. The project has also helped to increase consumer awareness by clearing misconceptions consumers may have concerning specialised goods such as organic foods and sustainable designs.

The original goal was to select ethical (ecologically sustainable, local and good hearted) businesses by random and to provide artistic skills and tools to make street credible advertisements for them. These ads could then be distributed through the art world networks and be presented for global audiences through art fair screenings and exhibitions.

Similar project have been executed before. In most successful cases urban creatives have been successful in developing the services of small rural businesses, so that the entrepreneurs have been able to push their products to new markets. The most popular example is Guaraná Power (2003–) by artists’ group SUPERFLEX. The project initiated from a call for help by the guaraná farmers’ cooperative from Maués in the Brasilian Amazon. As a response SUPERFLEX helped to re-brand their Guaraná drink and to market their products globally. Parallel Ads is attempting to give urban manufactures similar benefits.

Parallel Ads was launched 2010 as a part of the Media Facades festival in Helsinki. The first Parallel Ad was made for an organic cafeteria “Galleria Keidas” in the Kallio district, Helsinki (Part two “Infomercial” ). The space was selected randomly, based on it’s menu (organic and vegan goods) and location in Kallio. The establishment owner participated in planning the ads. After completion both ads where projected onto building surfaces in Kallio as a part of video-art screening series curated by Gallery Alkovi. (Read more on the Keidas-case.)

The second edition of Parallel Ad was made for artist-blacksmith Jesse Sipola from Oshipala Airhammer Studios. This time the selection of whom to advert was not random, it was tactical. The project is intended solemnly online – And it aims to seriously expand peoples understanding on crafts and to clear clichés consumers project to blacksmiths. As the first effort a smithing festival called Rautasulka was streamed online using the Bambuser-service (See extract.). This was likely the first time contemporary crafts festivals where shown live online.

2011 a more detailed informercial “Jesse Sipola, Seppä | Blacksmith (2011)” of the praxis of blacksmith Sipola was published. In two years it has had more then 10K views and if currently featured on many blacksmith forums. Sipola used the same video material to edit a video targeted for his blacksmith peers. The edition Sipola made projects a more technical view on his craft. It is unclear which version has a more positive impact on the craft of blacksmithing. Both videos where recently presented as a part of the “Skills of Economy” event curated by Jussi Koitela. Crafts is the most important field of study for anyone interested in sustainable design and post-industrial economics.

The most recent Parallel Ads related action took place in Kemi as I made a small video about the local skateboarding site Kemihalli, run by the Meri-Lapin Rullalautailijat Association. The venture was made possible by the Heimo -scheme. As a controversial act I used the Heimo -scheme visual image in the design of the Kemihalli logo – Which is currently used by the association on their webpages.

Parallel Ads is useful for the associations, businesses and entrepreneurs who get help in marketing their services… But it also provides a framework for myself to connect different kinds of odd jobs (like making music videos: Kuukumina – Cajonero) into a sensible and artistic effort. Instead of promoting Indie-Capitalism (as defined by business week) the project is rooted in self-publishing traditions and will hopefully increase solidarity and understanding between grassroots organisations and the general public.