reede, september 07, 2007

Capitals of Culture

Estonia is trailing Finland in yet another category. This time it's in preparations for being a European Capital of Culture in the futuristic sounding year of 2011. Both Turku and Tallinn will be cultural capitals that year, and Turku's plans are already solid, while Tallinn's appear lame.

From The Baltic Times:

Sir Robert Scott said he had concerns about Tallinn’s Cultural Capital budget, and said the program lacked input from the city’s minority – meaning Russian – community.

Further, he expressed concerns about the content of Tallinn’s program, which was “unclear in its European dimension,” lacked involvement from “new Estonians,” and did not show any new examples of culture. Mikko told
The Baltic Times she had her own concerns about the program, which focused entirely on Tallinn’s medieval history, rather than showcasing the city’s forward thinking.

Ah, so the Tallinn planners thought they could dress up Edgar Savisaar for a night out at the Brotherhood of Blackheads, hand out some nuts, with a perfunctory performance from Vanilla Ninja, and all would be right and cultural in Tallinn.

There's a couple of riddles wrapped in this enigma though. For one, Scott needs a history lesson. Namely, Tallinn medieval culture isn't the culture of the maarahvas. It's the culture of the Hansa League, of German-speaking merchants. One does not need to be an 'old' Estonian to celebrate Tallinn's medieval culture. 'Newer' Estonians too own medieval homes in Vana Tallinn. There's actually little dividing the two groups on that front.

But here's the other part of it. So much of Tallinn is selling the city as a tourist destination. And one must wonder if the planners thought that that was all this designation is good for -- a way to draw in more tourists to experience medieval Tallinn. Tallinn does have a strong cultural output, but it's not the first thing you think of when you think Tallinn.

In my opinion, they should hand the whole damn event over to Vaiko Eplik and Chalice and let them run it. That would truly be a swell event. Until then, it's back to the drawing board. Turku though seems to be on the right track:
At the same cultural committee meeting, the Finnish city of Turku – which will jointly share the title of Cultural Capital with Tallinn in 2011 – was praised for its preparations. “Turku is very good. If we are not very good or even better, we will be marginalized,” Mikko said.
Ouch. Not only are the Finns wealthier and better fed than Estonians, they also plan better events. Turku is a lovely city. I highly recommend the boat bars on the canal. Whatever you do though, don't fall in the water! In a way though, they are in a better position to host this kind of event. Turku is less dominated by medieval architecture and the tourism industry. It is also home to a well respected university. These are the kind of ingredients that make good cultural capital planning.

So, like I said, give the event over to Eplik and Chalice. Or just hold your heads and cry, because the Finns did it better one more time.

11 kommentaari:

Unknown ütles ...

This stuff is probably like Eurovision anyway. I mean, everybody raise their hands, who know what the capital of culture of 2007 is! It's a row on the paper to spend and ask for a little more kroons from the money-guys. I doubt it's anything more.

Giustino ütles ...

I recall when Reykjavik was a city of culture. But that's about it. Still, free money is always good. You just need to know how to invest it.

John Menzies ütles ...

New culture = ugly modern architecture and pointless performance art.

Russia is hosting the Winter Olympics the year after next. Nuff said. Beijing is hosting the next Summer Olympics -- and it has to train its citizens not to hock loogies (spit phlegm). I imagine toilet training was not long in the past.

Still, it would have been nice for Tallinn to be the Cultural Capital or whatever before these sorts of titles and honours are completely devalued.

Giustino ütles ...

New culture = ugly modern architecture and pointless performance art.

You mean like a bilingual hip hop performance by musicians dressed in medieval clothing held at Kumu?

Unknown ütles ...

It's all in how the city's name rolls off the gold-tipped tongue. Say "Tallinn", and you think of a blood-soaked Dane [see earlier post] looking to the heavens in a hallucinogenic craze. Blood and crosses indeed! Stick to porno festivals, you Scandinavian reprobates! Say "Turku", and you think about making love to your plump wife who is really your pet reindeer Jukka. Despite that bestial fact the love is so sweet and moist1 Very nice!

Turku wins again! Like Giustino always says - Tallinn is a city for homos and Limey brutes whom Giustino will fight in combat on any given night!


John Menzies ütles ...

Hip-hop and medieval costumes would actually be a good pairing. I wonder what kind of pieces the musicians would carry, though. For example, how were drive-bys done in medieval times? Would gobs of Greek fire be lobbed from a passing chariot? I mean, an execution-style killing was obviously just an execution back then, but not everything can be accomplished without quality modern handguns.

Turku was a city in which I came slightly unglued. It was on Vappu. It resembled that sequence from Rules of Attraction except it all took place in that one town. I remember a park that resembled Toomemägi and houses in pastel shades, a canal (possibly), some very genteel Swedish Finns (minorities!), dancing with a beautiful African exchange student (very Kerouac's Subterraneans). Then standing in a graveyard before the grave of the sister of another girl, consoling her. Then another party. After that, darkness, with white blurry edges. I vote for Turku as Cultural Capital of that Year.

Giustino ütles ...

For example, how were drive-bys done in medieval times?

It's worse than that John! I hear that if you wear a scarlet tunic in Pelgulinna you can get capped, whereas if you wear a purple tunic in Kalamaja it's certain death!

I know many will disagree, but Tallinn does seem to be lacking in the cultural department, compared to Tartu.

Things that Tallinn brings to mind:

1) Cruise boats with tourists
2) Brits at stag parties/football bars
3) Ostentatious displays of money and fashion
4) Medieval Disney

Culture is on that list, but where exactly?

It's funny how every segment of Estonia has its own cultural base. There's 'south Estonia' with its Võru dialect and Setomaa and the home of Kalevipoeg, et cetera.

Then there's obviously Tartu, which we won't delve into. Pärnu is surprisingly known for its culture. I bet everybody in Estonia knew about that statue of Lenin with a light bulb for a head and knew that it was in Pärnu.

What I guess Tallinn could draw on is north Estonian culture in general. There is north Estonian culture right?

As for newcomers input? That is interesting. I often feel like Tallinn is just another tour stop for Russian acts. You can see the posters up every time Yevgeni so-and-so drops into Tallinn. But what exactly is Russian-Estonian-Tallinn? I am sure it exists, but I don't know it too well.

If Tallinn does have one strong suit it is an active fashion community. Maybe they can lure Mõepolitseinik Urmas Väljaots out of exile in Paris to do some damage in 2011.

antyx ütles ...

Cue Tartu schadenfreude...

For example, how were drive-bys done in medieval times?

In an organized way, in tournaments, with lances. ;)

There is north Estonian culture right?

Haapsalu maintains it's West Estonia, so you're stuck with Tallinn (dominating its surroundings completely, as neither Paldiski nor Maardu seem to have a significant cultural level) and Ida-Virumaa. So, no...

Giustino ütles ...

I went out to Lahemaa once with a friend who is actually from there and speaks with a Finnish-sounding accent (rolling and articulated). The north Estonians are *allegedly* close to the southern Finns in dialect.

But the culture seems to mostly be mostly about sea shanties and sawing wood. And of course, getting drunk.

antyx ütles ...

I guess Rakvere comes closest to being a North-Estonian culture town. In that it is extremely pleasant when the weather permits, and has a bit of a theatre scene. I remember going there in the summer, something to do with a theatre workshop going on there, and it was like an extended version of Kadriorg.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

Tartu, Tartu: I arrived there in 91 where they told me at university that they are communicating via email. Email??? Back then in Germany there was even the fax a restricted and priveleged communication tool. I first got to know about email in Tartu!!!
And, so stupid, guys from the biosiences offered me a stay. I refused, that was too advanced for me. Still angry about missed chances.