Finnland. Cool.
Frankfurt Book Fair.
Guest of Honour 2014.

Finnish Weird: Extravaganza from Finland

Frankfurt, 28. July 2014 – Nordic mythology combined with mordacity and a dash of the scary – this characterises the young, somewhat idiosyncratic fantasy literature of Finland, this year’s Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair 2014. Presented as an own literary genre under the label “Finnish Weird”.

While more than 150 years ago literature in Germany was at its peak with classical authors such as Goethe and Schiller, Finnish literature was still in its infancy. For example, whereas Goethe achieved broad cultural acceptance for his astonishing Faust – and is now considered as a representative of great literature – stories with unrealistic and fantastic content, aimed at adult readers, were immediately classified as fairy tales or escapism in Finland. Their only chance of gaining acceptance in society was, if aliens or ghosts had an appearance in the story and considered children’s literature.

The young Finnish authors aren’t familiar with genre boundaries or writing traditions, due to the comparatively late development of fictional literature. Therefore a whimsical genre mixture of science fiction, fantasy, horror, surrealism and much more arose, which pays tribute to the folklore and myths of Finland. Thus the distinction in different literary genres is considered restrictive and nonessential by many Finnish authors.

According to the Scandinavian crime stories – marked as “Nordic Noir” – the Finnish science fiction and fantasy author Johanna Sinisalo created the label “Finnish Weird” in 2010 in order to give this bizarre mix of fantastical genre elements in Finnish literature its own name.

“Finnish Weird” can be, in some respects, compared to the Anglo-American term “Speculative Fiction”. Johanna Sinisalo’s Book Troll: A Love story, published in Finland in 2000, is said to be a stylistic prime example for “Finnish Weird” and for this reason led to a boom of fictional stories. Since then, more and more readers have been discovering and enjoying this sort of strange literature, which is based on a bizarre potpourri and is combined as “Finnish Weird”.

The stories told in “Finnish Weird” often set in realistic environments, but are in some way bizarre in their quirky twists so that they differ clearly from the traditional narration. “Fantastic characters, Nordic mythology, legends and bizarre storytelling form the most important elements of this fictitious literature – totally ‘Finnish Weird’”, states Maria Antas, expert for literature and head of the literary program Finnland.Cool. – Guest of Honour at Frankfurt Book Fair 2014.

Johanna Sinisalo arranges “Finnish Weird” as a union of Nordic mythology, references to established Finnish literature and biting sarcasm. Faithful to the diversity of literary genres the plot is prominent in her works. Nature is a frequent motif and the preferred setting for the action, where many Finns seek relaxation and recovery from a stressful daily routine, “Finnish
Weird” inverts this function and the natural protective barrier gets a mystic as well as subtly threatening and foreboding atmosphere.

Analogical “weird” is Emmi Itäranta’s novel Memory of Water. Due to a water shortage the protagonist Noria flees into a cavern where she finds a secret spring. Subsequently this rescuing of this natural treasure metaphorically becomes a serious threat to the little girl. “One of the most important tasks of fiction is, to show the world in a whole new light”, says Itäranta, whose bestseller Memory of Water was published in Finland in 2011.

Even writers who have yet to incorporate write anything fantastic or fictional into their books are increasing including more mystical and fantastic elements. Alongside the disappearing genre boundaries, the older and new styles of writing are forming a symbiosis, which break the former traditional patterns. In addition the weighting and selection of genre aspects enables the authors to compose their stories without limits. Miikko Oikkonen and Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen are promising writers of this unique and fresh genre. Together with Emmi Itäranta and Johanna Sinisalo these two are introducing “Finnish Weird” at the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014 and are accompany the public on a rollercoaster ride through the fantastical genre from the quills of unique authors.

Finland in the Frankfurter Kunstverein

The cultural programme of this years Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair starts with the group exhibition ”Matters of Time. Artists from Finland”

Frankfurt, 24th July 2014 – Finland is this year’s Guest of Honour at the Frankfurt Book Fair. Finlands literature and culture with not only be present all over the trade fair grounds (October, 8th – 12th), but also in the city of Frankfurt the will be many events and opportunities to discover the culture of Finland.kuorinki

The programme starts with the group exhibition “Matters of Time. Artists from Finland”, which takes place in the Frankfurter Kunstverein from July, 25th to October, 12th. The exhibition brings together works by eight artists and artist duos from Finland, offering an in-depth look at diverse approaches within contemporary Finnish art. Using different media, including photography, video, sculpture, sound, and computer animation, the exhibited works address the nature of time and metaphors of transience. During the opening event Iris Schwanck, the FILI Director and Head of the Finnland.Cool.-project stated:

”The exhibition at the Frankfurter Kunstverein and the accompanying programme reflects the primary idea of our Finnland.Cool.-project. We wish to invite the public to be surprised and awakened, to discover new contexts and to learn a lot.”

Until the beginning of the Frankfurt Book Fair and beyond, Finnish culture will be represented at many locations in the city of Frankfurt to captivate the public. For example:

The Deutsche Filminstitut / Deutsche Filmmuseum shows a retrospective of cult Finnish director Aki Kaurismäki (August, 29th – October, 8th). Furthermore “Carte blanche” is the title of a film series which shows seven film classics based on well known literary works, selected by the film historian and filmmaker Peter von Bagh (October, 8th – 31st).

The Deutsche Architekturmuseum presents with “Suomi Seven” seven promising young architects from Finland (September, 6th – November, 9th).

On the occasion of the Frankfurt Book Fair 2014 the Finnish photography project “The Loveliest Girl in the World” will be shown for the first time in Germany. Interested people can discover portraits of adolescent girls living in a children’s home in Helsinki taken by the Finnish photographer Miina Savolainen in Ausstellungshalle 1A (September, 26th – October, 19th).

The Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt presents in a comprehensive exhibition works by the most important artist and painter of the first half of the 20th century, Helene Schjerfbeck (October, 2nd 2014 – January, 11th 2015).

In October for ten days the Mousonturm is dedictated to the most current and exciting that the Finnish dance and performance scene has to offer with with “Run Wild Stay Cool”.

With “Potretti” the Fotografie Forum Frankfurt shows an exhibition of contemporary photographic art from Finland. The focus is on portraits and self-portraits by the participating artists (October, 4th – November, 30th).

Opening new perspectives on the world we thought we know is the theme of the “Burka” photographs by the Finnish artist and author Rosa Liksom. Her works will be shown from October, 6th to 24th at the Haus am Dom.

For more details about the Finnland.Cool. cultural programme please see here.

Further information:
Press office Finnland.Cool. | c/o WBCO GmbH | Silvia Lenz | Krögerstraße 2 |
60313 Frankfurt | T +49.69.13388037 | F +49.69.13388033 |