004/2011 welcome to the european capital of culture 2011!

This is the talk of the town – has been most of last year (links to some articles in the international press below), and especially now as we are waiting for the official opening on the 14-15 January. Together with Tallinn in Estonia, my town Turku will have the privilege to promote itself in Europe, and globally. Since 1985, over 40 European cities have held this title, given by the Commission of the European Union. It allows the chosen capitals to develop and regenerate their cultural image, as well as make them more visible internationally, and hopefully attract tourists and investors.

I just hope that the millions of euros invested in the project won’t mostly be blown up in the air in massive firework displays and other pomp and circumstance. Personally, I am mostly looking forward to small, surprising and innovative grassroots events.

One such piece of art appeared on a pavement on New Year’s Eve, actually right in front of the office of the Cultural Capital Year.

It’s a colourful, wooden statue of a workman sharpening his axe. There is a lever with which you can move the guy’s hands plus a guestbook to sign. At first, everybody thought that this was part of the launch of the Culture Capital Year, until it was discovered that it was the tongue-in-cheek protest of a Spanish trubadour and artist, now settled in Turku. Hence the Spanish New Year’s greeting, too! He is known for expressing his opinion about culture by putting different axes on pieces of art around the country.

We may be in for an interesting year!

Turku official website in English

Article in the New York Times

Article in the Guardian

Article in the Independent

Article in the Monocle magazine


2 Responses to “004/2011 welcome to the european capital of culture 2011!”

  1. January 5, 2011 at 16:54

    didnt’ know the story behind that .. but it’s brilliant. Grassroots indeed.

  2. 2 sinikka
    January 6, 2011 at 12:30

    It’s good, isn’t it? I read in the paper that the officials are hesitant to remove the statue as it would be rather two-faced during this special year of culture. But they have said that it will have to be removed if it starts to obstruct movement on the pavement, or snow clearing, for example. Clearing snow will probably be their get-out clause.

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