Go Back

Laura Hirvi

Born July 16, 1980, Mannheim, Germany

Bachelor of Arts (ethnology) 2004, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany
Master of Arts (ethnology) 2007, University of Jyväskylä
PhD (ethnology) 2013, University of Jyväskylä

Director of the Finnish Institute in Germany, 2015–
Part-time German teacher 2006–08, University of Jyväskylä and City of Jyväskylä
Project worker 2005, Theatre Info Finland
English teacher 2003-04, Carmel English School & Aukland House School, India
Project worker 2002, national poetry archive of the Finnish Literature Society
Assistant 2001–03, Gleis Lutz, Berlin

Numerous literary and general translations over a period of 10 years, including German translations of Terhi Rannela’s novel Taivaan tuuliin and Leea Klemola’s play Kokkola

Vice-chairwoman 2014, ASLA-Fulbright Alumni Association Board
Website and email administrator of ‘Sikhs in Europe’ 2012–
Book review editor 2009–11, Finnish Journal of Ethnicity and Migration
Board member (responsible for international affairs) 2009–10, Helan tutjijat ry (an association of doctoral students and research doctors at the Department of History and Ethnology, University of Jyväskylä)

Written by Laura Hirvi (Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Finnish artists in Berlin

Berlin has always played a significant role in global politics. The city is a major cultural hub, with a magnetic attraction for artists from all over the world. In part this may be a result of Berlin’s conscious policy of attracting global actors in the creative fields, such as artists, to live in Berlin. In this city the connection between creativity and economic growth has been understood, and similar policies are being drafted and applied even elsewhere in the world.

Finnish artists have often crossed the Baltic, and the latest wave already began ten years ago. Finns come to Berlin to study and to work, and its attraction shows no sign of fading. The tolerant and multicultural atmosphere of Berlin and the relatively low cost of living encourage numerous artists to come to the old and new capital of Germany and make it their own urban studio. Some settle more permanently in Berlin, some commute regularly between the two nations. Some artists stay in Berlin only for a short time, many thanks to artist grants for international mobility.

Fieldwork, a drawing. Photo: Collection of Laura Hirvi.

In a project of mine studying Finnish artists in Berlin, funded by the Kone Foundation I wanted to discover the relationship between city, art, and mobile artists. I wanted to answer the question of how a specific city affects the work of artists. How do artists and their work affect the continuous process that forms the cultural structure of a city? I also wanted to more extensively explore the reasons why so many Finnish artists move to Berlin. My first paper on the subject was recently published in Ethnologia Europea. Journal of European Ethnology. (link: <a href="http://www.mtp.dk/ethnologia_europaea/">http://www.mtp.dk/ethnologia_europaea/ .The paper sheds light on the intra-European mobility of contemporary artists by examining the experiences of Finnish pictorial artists who have been living in Berlin for one year or more. The research material was gathered in ethnographic fieldwork through interviews with 15 artists. The research shows how economic and professional reasons, impressions and dreams, social networks and the chance to work in inspirational urban surroundings influence the decisions of Finnish artists to move to Berlin. Further, the paper answers the central question of why so many artists want to continue their international lifestyle, which generates a multinational current of creativity.

Berlin Impressions. Photo: Collection of Laura Hirvi.

More on my research:

Go Back