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An art event in the midst of nature that lives and breathes with the city’s residents

What is a megatrend and what has it got to do with an art event? And how can urban development strengthen people’s relationship with nature? Mikko Dufva, Leading Foresight Specialist at Sitra, considers public events in the city to be important meeting places. Public spaces create opportunities to broaden our thinking and imagine desirable futures together.

A megatrend refers to a general trend or an extensive trajectory of change that occurs globally and has long-term effects. The environmental sustainability crisis and urbanisation are examples of megatrends.

What will change between people and our cityscape as the world changes?

“In recent decades, individualisation and consumerism have increased in importance in Western countries, which has contributed to the transformation of public spaces into commercial spaces such as shopping centres,” says Mikko Dufva. On the other hand, the Helsinki Central Library Oodi, which is a place that city residents feel belongs to them, has emerged as an opposing force to this development.

Indeed, there can be many different areas within a city, and familiar areas may gain new uses. This will also be the case when the Helsinki Biennial settles on Vallisaari Island.

The biennial is open to all and free of charge, apart from the ferry ticket. The event is part of Helsinki’s City Strategy and its Sustainable Development Goals. Cities have a key role in putting these goals into practice – into actions that enhance the wellbeing of the environment, the economy and people.

According to Maija Tanninen-Mattila, Director of HAM Helsinki Art Museum and Helsinki Biennial, a neighbourhood that is intended for all will soon exist in our archipelago.

So, it’s time to see this familiar environment in a new light. Experiencing the biennial on Vallisaari with people from different cultural backgrounds is likely to open Helsinki residents’ eyes to the wide variety of life and experiences offered by their hometown.

Art can strengthen our relationship with nature

The importance of nature is widely understood in Finland, and as we face this climate crisis many are becoming increasingly concerned about the wellbeing of the environment. Partly because of this, the popularity of local tourism is increasing all over Finland.

Helsinki Biennial will help alleviate the climate anxiety of tourists from near and far. Site-specific works engage in dialogue not only with Vallisaari but also with the public and the history of the area. The event will bring you close to nature, allow you to breathe the fresh sea air and to clear your head.

“Artists can influence how people see things with their art,” says Maija Tanninen-Mattila.

At the biennial, the conditions will also be surprising. Even if you are exploring the works on your own, the experience may feel communal. Viewing works of art framed by nature may encourage you to talk to other visitors more freely than you would in a more conventional museum space.

This is an opportunity that the foresight specialist is also excited about. Sitra’s Mikko Dufva wants to encourage people to join forces and imagine better futures together. From within the city, it is natural to start picturing even broader dimensions.

“What are the stories we tell ourselves about this world and our future? How could these stories be taken to such a level that would allow us to turn them into reality?” Dufva asks.

An easy way to influence the development of your living environment is to attend events and discussions in communal urban spaces. Art and the people who come together around art provide each other with inspiration for new insights.

Written by: Helmi Saksala