Krimifest (11-12 August 2017, Imatra)

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KRIMIFEST
11–12 August 2017

In the second weekend of August, Krimi will celebrate the houses’ last summer as a festival touchstone with an extravagant garden party. Let’s do it one more time, sisters and brothers!

The festivities officially kick off at 6 p.m. on Friday, August 11, with the opening of a show by painter Santtu Määttänen. The audience will be entertained after the opening by musical mastermind Joose Keskitalo.

On Saturday, partygoers can arrive at Krimi early in the day and spend quality relaxation time with the whole family if they like. The music again blasts off at nightfall, supplied by Joutseno-based power duo Suominen & Härkönen, multimedia Guggenheim Projektz, and Australian-born Kitto, a great singer-songwriter who now hails from Sweden.

In addition to music, on Friday and Saturday, Krimi will have a really special program featuring performances, caricature drawing, and a holographic piece by the Power Builders art group. Partygoers are also free to express themselves and bring games, musical instruments, etc.  The party will be conceived and celebrated together.

A detailed schedule for the weekend will be available shortly, and other changes to the program are also possible. While admission to the event is officially free, we hope that participants support our work by donating money as they see fit.

General Info

The party is organized by the Krimi Art Center in cooperation with the Krimi Houses, located at Koulukatu 1A in Imatra. Except for Friday’s art show opening, the entire program will take place outside. With an eye to the fickle weather, it would be worth your while to bring warm, waterproof clothes just in case. You should also bring something or other for sitting on in the yard. In addition, the sauna will be warmed up on Saturday. Bring your own towel along if you want to have a bath.

There are plenty of shops and other services nearby. The nearest campground is around three hundred meters away, in Varpasaari Fishing Park. People traveling long distances may also ask to stay the night at Krimi.

If you have specific questions, you can contact us by email at taidekeskuskrimi@gmail.com.

Krimi Art Center
Koulukatu 1A
55100 Imatra
www.taidekeskuskrimi.com

Translated by Living in FIN

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The Krimi Art Center, a home and haven for Imatra’s current art students and recent art school grads, celebrates its last summer in existence with a festival on August 11 and 12, 2017.

Why has the city decided to demolish the two modest wooden buildings that make up Krimi?

I’ve already forgotten the “official” reason the houses have to go (the dreaded “toxic fungus” that lumbers round this fair land like the plague during the Middle Ages? austerity for students at the hands of the current bourgeois government?), but I have no doubt they are at odds with the city’s current development plan, which involves

    • demolishing as much built heritage as possible, even officially listed built heritage;
    • holding as many loud, vulgar public mega events as possible, such as the recent “concerts in the park” that ripped up huge swathes of the parkland situated cheek by jowl with the complex housing the city’s library, concert hall, museums, and city hall, while sonically terrorizing the mostly elderly residents of the nearby Mansikkala neighborhood for several nights in a row, and the latest iteration of the Imatra International Road Racing Championship, an event that should have been left buried in the 1960s, when it crashed and burned, but has been unwisely dusted off by the local powers that be and made an annual fixture just as worldwide climate warming kicks into high gear, as if sending huge clouds of smoke into the atmosphere is now cooler than it was back in the swinging sixties;
    • building as many big box stores for the now-mostly nonexistent “flood” of Russian shopping tourists and building most of the stores in the same neighborhood, Mansikkala, thereby making life nearly intolerable for residents of the city’s most populous district, most of whom are old-age pensioners who built the place and, when they were still working, actually made real things in the city’s once-mighty factories;
    • building something useless or expensive or both in the so-called Imatra Free Time Center (Imatran Vaipaa-Aika Keskus), which was once a wooded paradise on earth, featuring a pine tree-shaded swimming beach so pretty and picturesque it made you want to cry. Nowadays, however, the Imatra Free Time Center is chockablock with vacation cottages, a revamped beach in which most of those shade trees have been axed, a biathlon center (soon to be useless in a warmed-up climate hardly capable of producing large quantities of snow), a new Finnish baseball stadium, an indoor sports field, sheltered by an inflatable dome, a new camping ground (moved there to make room for the vacation cottages), and a new fish restaurant, erected right on the shoreline of Lake Saimaa. Hilariously, the fish restaurant was blueprinted and built by the city and its allies in the construction sector even though it had no one lined up to lease and operate it after plans for it were mooted and officially approved and, now, at least a year after it has been built down to the last doorknob, the mythical fish restaurateur is still waiting in the shadows, too bashful to emerge and take over the eatery custom built for him or her. Construction of the fish restaurant (which, were I a bad, lawless person, I would suggest the soon-to-be-homeless art students and young artists from Krimi should squat, because it’s not serving any other purpose at the moment) necessitated the clear-cutting of so many trees and the pouring of so much asphalt that it changed beyond all recognition the particular tract of now-vanished shady forest on the shores of Lake Saimaa where it was plopped down to no apparent purpose. Basically, it turned that part of the Imatra Free Time Area into a “human-friendly” desert of the kind that puts Russian shopping tourists at ease, or so the local Finnish developers imagined. It never occurs to the local Finnish developers and city planners they could be wrong about anything, least of all about Russians, about whom they pretend to know everything, but about whom they know almost nothing, which would be ironic if were not so funny and sad at the same time;
    • attacking and annihilating nearly defenseless cultural and artistic endeavors like the Krimi Houses, the now-defunct Taiderastit one-day art crawls, the International Semiotics Institute and its renowned summer seminars, and other things that had made the town attractive to a different crowd of tourist, as well as to local residents who don’t celebrate soul-, eardrum-, and earth–destroying noise and smoke as “culture.” Needless to say, none of these events cost the city or the federal government much money at all, but they were easy targets for hard-minded city councilors, MPs, and deputy ministers wanting to produce results when it came to the most sacred thing in Finnish governance: “savings” (säästöjä)
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Ukonlinna Beach, Imatra, South Karelia, 31 July 2012. Photo by Living in FIN

This is how the city of Imatra, South Karelia, Finland, imagines and actually implements its own future: by getting rid of lots of things and people that, in real and cultural terms, are defenseless, good value for the money, and anything but in-your-face aggressive and environmentally destructive, whether we are talking about trees and beautiful shorelines or mild-mannered art students running an art gallery in their own digs or foreign semioticians. The city replaces them with what is good in the very short term for the demolition, construction, and lowbrow tourism and shopping sectors.

And you thought Finland was different. How wrong you were. LIF

The Nineties You’re Glad You Missed

This van has been parked in the “guest” (overflow) parking lot of our co-operative residential building for the last week or so. I assumed someone had bought it used at a severe discount because of the embarrassing logo, emblazoned on both sides of the vehicle.

How wrong I was. A quick check of Radio Nova’s website revealed that the station’s “Retroperjantai” (“Retro Fridays”) program and the unpatriotically dubbed Go 90’s festival are planning to make life in Imatra’s Mansikkala district unbearable on  June 30 and July 1.

These bastards (there is no other word for it) are once again going to rip up the lovely green meadow in the park along the Vuoksi River between the city hall-central library-cultural center campus and the swimming pool so the sagging waistlines crowd can listen to and gaze at the unmissed Raptori for something like 40 euros for a single ticket.

The cultural powers that be ripped up and fenced off the same meadow at least once or twice last summer for commercial music events, including concerts held in connection with the retrograde celebration of noise and air pollution known as the Imatranajo International Road Racing Championship.

This motorcycle race had also quietly disappeared into the semi-distant past, but now it has been revived on a permanent basis by the city council and cycling enthusiasts.

The renaissance coincided more or less with the extinction of the much more environmentally friendly and once-mighty Imatra Big Band Festival and the altogether environmentally friendly and utterly prestigious International Summer School for Semiotic and Structural Studies.

The big band festival had real financial problems, apparently, but the city council, dominated by so-called Social Democrats and members of the now officially fascist Finns Party, chose not to save the world-renowned festival, so it sank and drowned altogether, while the International Semiotics Institute, housed in modest digs at the city library and funded by a tiny subsidy from the city, was banished from the city budget altogether (due its utter obscurity to the “proletariat,” one has to imagine, although it had existed happily in Imatra since 1988), forcing it to decamp to Budapest, if I’m not mistaken.

Eager to ensure that no one could enjoy the non-music on offer for free, the organizers of last year’s concerts in the park fenced off the bike and pedestrian path on the shore of the Vuoksi. I was lucky enough, if you can all it that, to get a snapshot of two worthy local oldsters who were literally baffled by this fence as they tried to cruise down the path along the river, probably the most beloved place in the city for riding bikes, jogging, and strolling. The old people were ultimately forced to turn around and either bypass the entire area or go back home.

In the event, however, the music was loud as hell and echoed off and among the tower blocks situated right across the most heavily populated neighborhood in Imatra, Linnala/Mansikkala.

The funny thing is that back in the wild days before the city fathers and mothers came to their senses and turned this stretch of the Vuoksi into a mecca for decorous recreation, wise urban administration, and the quiet pursuit of knowledge and culture, the so-called Virranpuisto (“Current Park”: I’ve never heard this toponym before or seen it on any map) was the city’s official camping grounds.

The wild days in question were the sixties and seventies. I’ve seen photos of what the Tainionkoski camping grounds looked like back then, and I’m truly glad I had a whole ocean between me and that silly trash- and car-infested mess, dotted with tents, in its heyday.

So it would seem that, on the strength of the false urban planning and administration theory that every largish plot of urban greenery that isn’t generating income either for local councils or local developers (or both), has to be bludgeoned into cashcowdom, however badly that impacts the quality of life of the folks who actually live in the neighborhood, we are returning not only to the nineties but also to the seventies, when the meadow was a swamp of human congestion and consumption every summer.

More or less kittywampus from the newly minted funfair known to boosters (but not to actual people) as Virranpuisto is the scandalously underused Imatrakosken Urheilukenttä (“Imatrankoski Athletic Field”), where, I’ve noticed, traveling circuses set up camp and perform for a few days every summer.

The athletic field has the facilities and space for such entertainments, and it is located in a much less populous neighborhood. Why not relive the nineties there?

UPDATE. My best friend, whose memory is much better than mine, points out it was the Finnish federales who axed the ISI’s extremely tiny budget, not the lowly Imatra city council. I seem to remember the ISI then appealed to the city council for funding, but was turned down. My best friend remembers no such thing.

Photos and rant by Living in FIN