In conversation with Alejandro Lorenzo, Photographer and Curator of Helsinki Underground Art Festival.

Iranzu Guijarro

Photographer: Jutta Aalto

Alejandro Lorenzo uses to say that all he does is related to people. From trying to understand them to try to understand himself, and all the things in between; photography is a wonderful tool for him to develop that experience. This freelance photographer, artist and teacher from Barcelona who is living in Helsinki already 7 years, now is one of the curators for the upcoming Helsinki Underground Art Weekend.

This is the first year of the festival, created by Markus Rauramo. Alejandro, Markus and the rest of the crew are excited about introducing this new event to the city from the 11th to 13th of May at Helsinki’s Cable Factory (Kaapelitehdas) and mbar. The program will include urban art exhibition, vj showcase, dj´s, performances, club party, live graffiti painting, spoken word, arts & crafts sale, fire dancing and more.

In addition, the Peace Education Institute will bring an art workshop for children during Saturday program, the live paintings will be auctioned for charity during on Sunday and additional exhibitions can be enjoyed the whole month at mbar and Ateljeejee gallery.

Iranzu Guijarro

Photographer: Alejandro Lorenzo


How would you describe your curator role in Helsinki Underground Art Festival? It’s been interesting to be, so to say, in the other side. As an artist, I only have to care of my work. When Aleksandra Kahakorpi (owner of gallery Ateljeejee) and me had to sit down and go through the applicants to make a selection; we had to question many things. It was not only about which artists we think are good. We had to ponder what is the theme of the exhibition? What each artist is bringing to the group? Do they naturally belong there or else, do they clash or do they bring more value?
There’s no use, for example, to put a good artist on the wrong place. It would be both bad for the artist and for the whole event as well.

When did you decide to collaborate with Markus Rauramo? I met Markus Rauramo at one of his events one year ago. He liked my style of work so I started shooting at his events. We share some views about art in general and how to get things done, so he invited me to participate in the team.
Markus works in the advertisement field and is an event organizer who hasn’t forgot his artistic side. He does what he wants, produces himself and he’s good at finding good people to work with.

Would you like to describe the evolution in your work, from your first time in Helsinki to the present day? Being in cool events and such I have done before in Barcelona. But coping here with being an immigrant, meeting other immigrants, teaching to and working with Finnish people have influenced me a lot. I became more aware of things like integration, the problems between identities, etc. But the “call of nature” remembers me as well, that I am still a guy who loves aesthetics, creativity for the sake of creativity and having fun too. As I said before, as a photographer I can work in all those sides depending on the project and find balance for myself.

Iranzu Guijarro

Painted by Markus Rauramo – Heart Hides Inside

When you are choosing who is going to be at the Festival, which art values have you emphasize?  Aleksandra and I have curated the visual arts exhibition of the program. We looked for a gradient that would bring freshness and an open-minded view about what’s being underground. Like all artistic terms, we can argue about definitions eternally. Paraphrasing Johnny Rotten, the punk movement did not intend that every punk band should imitate the Sex Pistols in order to be punk, but that they would do whatever they want. I see underground and urban art a bit in the same way. So we put together some artists that actually are typically “street” artists with some other typically “gallery” artists that could complement to create that wider view, a mosaic.

How many artists are we going to enjoy this year in the Festival? Can you tell us more about 3 of them?  There will be about 25 visual artists between three zones of the program.
Just to mention three of them, for example… one can be Päivi Saarikoski. Her portraits of animal spirits, fusing figurative and abstract elements, speak clearly of human states. It is actually a lot about herself, but though the animals, the emotions appear more universal and approachable.
In another line there is Antti Männynväli who declares himself just a modern gentleman. In his works he fuses and pays homage all together to Tarantino, Japanese art (including the pandas), urban landscapes, the hacker group Anonymous and more into one style. Third one I will mention is Pallollap who, a bit on the lines of Banksy but with his own style, finds inspiration in the environment. His characters are quite like dark fantasy creatures from childhood nightmares but still with some certain innocence in them, like in Tim Burton’s most personal works. He says that doing it is therapeutic; I believe so.

Iranzu Guijarro

Do you think that this year 2012, that Helsinki is the World Capital of Design, Finnish society is going to participate more? This things like who’s the cultural capital, the Olympics, etc. seems often to be decided in relationship with the development of a place and also to boost that up.
Finland has started to become known internationally quite recently. They have been working on their own cultural development already for some years now; here is a lot of movement happening and being “more” every year. The WDC 2012 machine will help make more people aware of it. But precisely, that promotional help is more than welcome. Too many things happen under the surface. There’s a need of visibility.

What is your opinion about the reaction of Finnish society in the artistic field in general?
At first glance, Finnish society support arts quite a lot. I don’t want to get into politics or talk about if it works or not with the government support, that would be a long discussion. But from a personal perspective, Finns seem to like rules and on a first step they have approached arts forms from abroad as they are, respecting their original form, actually copying and reproducing it with sublime perfectionism. I was amazed going to a salsa course here: rules are rules and rules are sacred! :D
But also, many artists and art involved people (including public) question that stage and look for more personal stuff. I would say that they are hungry of culture. Maybe it is because their own traditional culture doesn’t have such strong presence, they look outwards and forward for new things.

If I tell you, Design In Society, what is coming up to your mind?
As a term, it could be anything. In any case it has to do with the population’s relationship with themselves and every related aspect: politics, business, culture, etc. Design is always giving an order to something to accomplish a purpose that can be aesthetic, functional, pedagogic, and economic or anything else. Now, applied that to society is a broad question.

Thank you very much Alejandro for your help! ;-)

2 comentarios
  1. Excellent post. I was checking continuously this blog and I’m impressed! Extremely useful information particularly the last part :) I care for such info a lot. I was seeking this certain information for a very long time. Thank you and good luck.

    • Thank you so much!
      I hope I can feed you more and more, new ideas, new feelings, new creations. ;-)

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