© Selim Projects



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Nationalism runs strong in the history of Finland. Provocatively, it could be said that during only the last hundred years or so, Finland as an ideological construct became nationally branded by a set of cosmopolitan intellectuals, lifting the country from a pool of colonial histories into a single modern statehood, while choosing to start speaking a folksy “kitchen language” and building up a progressive republic. This seemingly utopian project proved to be extremely successful, but it also managed to eradicate any post-colonial, linguistic or even racial traumas from the popular culture and arts – discourses that still dominate the global cultural criticality. In Finland, the chosen idea of “a nation” was instead fully embraced and the past examples of national romanticism or ideological creations accepted as the natural state of being, rather than perceiving them as artificially crafted narratives. On the other hand, the success of the “national” has created a system, where any remaining or unnecessary parts have simply fallen through the cracks without further study, or purpose.

However, for today’s contemporaries operating within the boundaries this status quo can also become a limiting and sensitizing contextual framework. Who has the power to define the contents of a national identity and then keep Xeroxing it ad infinitum? What about the blind spots, glitches and unreadable characters? Who gets to curate the archive of a nation?

The METAFIN project was launched as an online archive, a book and an exhibition installation following a discussion on the construction of Finnish national identity as a “metacollection”. The project investigates Finnishness from a blurred angle, as a cultural territory of dispersed information, through experimental graphic design, exhibition practices, digital and analog archives, reproduction and critical writing. Its also aims to create various ways of operating in the current rising populist and nationalist rhetoric in Europe. By re-curating the standardized national imagery, objects, metainformation and symbols into a parallel archive regarding national identity, METAFIN seeks to create distance from the past canons and comfortable, nostalgic displays.

Do we still recognize ourselves from a/the national collection? Do we still exist?

⟵ Read more about the project in the Exhibitions section

Mika Savela, Henrik Drufva, Rebekka Gröhn
ISBN 978-952-68416-0-1
208 pages + covers
170 x 235 mm
B&W and colour photography
Finnish & English

Published by: Selim Projects, Helsinki, Finland
Editing and research: Mika Savela
Graphic design: Rebekka Gröhn

The project includes works from the following artists, designers and creatives: Jesse Auersalo (with Man Yau, Nina Merikallio) / Heta Bilaletdin / Chow Yik / Krista Durchman / Henrik Drufva / Rebekka Gröhn / Manna Jäntti / Heidi Kilpeläinen / Daniel Palillo / Anne Pasanen / Anni Puolakka / Susanna Raunio / Mika Savela / Jenna Sutela / Chris Vidal Tenomaa / Uusi Kaupunki collective / Tommi Vasko.

The publication has been made possible with support from the Kone Foundation.

© 2015 Selim Projects