Hopefully there will be changes

Our lives can become targeted, and the world events can break our innocence of time and space. The political turmoils in many areas of the Middle East have evidently shown us that our imagination of cultural space can change rapidly. International media has been ‘good’ in influencing our views of the significance of recent political turmoils.

Once undergoing a radical process from being a state under oppressive powers, Egypt took a route for re-branding its image in the world. The sequence of events towards a revolution in Egypt took place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in February 2011. This political performance became a testimony of a new type of nation branding, which operates with the help of global testimony. The advertising value of the events in the international media is in the question of, how did the revolution realize itself through the use of contemporary technologies? The revolution was not only local in terms of its impact, but it was simultaneously taking place in the various surrounding regions, and ultimately it took notice of the entire world through the modern telecommunications devices. SMS messaging, the use of Twitter and Facebook became channels for branding a new and globally more attractive appearance for Egypt. Men and women, young and old, came out from their homes bringing their radical presence, and fighting for the better future.

As a political performance, Tahrir Square stands as an utmost example of branding a nation. The sequence of events radicalized some common ideas that usually stand for the images of Egypt as an ancient, and merely an anti-modern state. The representations of the region’s backwardness, as it comes to people, its ruling power, and even the medieval imaginary created around the cultural artifacts (use of camels etc.), has been holding a strong place in our imagination. These representations were crashed and set in turmoil. Yet, the immediate surface and media representation, the use of stereotypes by the international media, as it discusses Egypt, still seemed to continue.

I went to Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif’s lecture on March 3rd in 2011, as she was lecturing at the Edward W. Said memorial lecture at Columbia University. Her view on the local peoples’ communal actions that gave Egyptians new voice throughout the world, was very moving. It seems now that in today’s global world, nation branding involves voicing that promotes both uniqueness and difference. From the cultural political points of view, critical consciousness started building itself in Egypt, that perhaps elsewhere would transform itself to a milder forms of ‘re-imagining our new nations’. Yet, Egypt’s cultural space became an example of nation building that carries across national borders. Its new imagination has become contested in the global space.

Jason Carter builds bridges through Music

I interviewed Jason Carter, a Harp guitar adventurer, who was born in UK, is a World citizen and celebrating his birthday this week. Jason has exiting new adventures coming up. And just a bit about the World peace too.
Happy birthday, Jason, hoping it is a good one! I remember our collaboration in 2000 in Helsinki with our ‘Landscape/Innerscape’ -performance project. It was great fun. Seems that we both have been doing creative projects for a while and traveled quite a bit since.
WOW, was it really THAT long ago??? I remember it well, it was my first trip to Finland, so very memorable. I am 43 today, time to start thinking about growing up. After all, it is the thought that counts..
What are the most recent places you visited to perform? How did you build bridges through music between cultures and people? What do you think about the carbon footprints and travel miles? This idea of making the world a better place through music is fantastic.
The most recent places have been Saudi Arabia, UAE, Brunei, Malaysia and Estonia. I think that every performance every artist gives, inevitably builds bridges, but then if the context is one of tension, conflict, or post war (power vacuum) then this becomes more poignant, as there can be also need for healing and reconciliation. The difference begins with every individual making an effort, which in turn, makes a difference. The carbon footprint is a difficult subject for me as I do travel far and wide, and to get to Dubai for instance, I would need to go by train all the way to Istanbul, then buses from there. Sounds great, even romantic, but impossible given the amount of concerts I do every year. Maybe one day I will be in a position to not think about how many concerts I need to do every year, and just travel this way, which would be amazing. Saying that, I will take the train to Siberia for my concerts in Novosibirsk in April.
I love your video *Endless Summer*. Tell me a little how it came about. The landscape speaks to me with its calm language. And the humor is so touching.

The creative process involved here come from two perspectives, me as a film maker and a musician. The music came easily with David Lillqvist (another Finn!). I rarely play with drummers, so this brings out a clearer sense of rhythm. The video was more difficult because we struggled with light in some of it, and it was COLD! For me, the video making process is not always or only about the story of the music, but a little about the personality of the performers. Maybe this is because I am a performer first and foremost, and I feel it important to connect with the audience personally.

What future plans you hold now, where do you see yourself going next in your career?
 Big question, as I am in the middle of some big changes. I have started this project http://www.jesseralwadi.org which is an initiative based in Abu Dhabi (UAE). It is many things, including education/workshops for schools, performances in the UAE and internationally (in UN concerts in Geneva and NYC). But mainly, this project is something which enables me to continue the theme of ‘building bridges through music’ on a more official level. I am off to Dubai and Abu Dhabi on Monday to secure funding for the first year. Wish me luck!
Thank you so much Jason, your projects are awesome, you need lots of good luck! Happy and safe travels!
And here *Endless summer*

Heritage month

February is a great month. Sami national day on the 6th celebrates cultures and heritage of indigenous Sami people, on February 28th Finns have their Kalevala (the National Epic)-day. During the mid month, people who are interested in the old time traditions can head to Røros in Norway. This event is called Rørosmartnan – Røros Market, and will be held for two weeks starting February 15th until the 29th. The historical marketplace opened in 1854, and has occurred every year since. Fans of traditional dance and music can learn and dance at old sangerhus (singerhouse) with the tunes of rørospols-dance. The old mining town is since 1980 a Unesco World Heritage site.  The market itself is a wonderful place to look for vintage, arts and crafts, local and traditional foods, etc.  Be prepared as the town is located 630 meters above sea level. I went there in 2005 for couple of days and recommend the event as a fun social experience.

official website for market: http://www.rorosmartnan.no/

A great Yellow city

There is only so much we can do with the urban panning? Move cafes to the rooftops, leave the city center only for taxis? Start using bikes in the city. What remains in the city that never sleeps aka *NYC* are the yellow cabs. As I have gotten used to them in everyday life, I thought to invent something that would describe my mindscape, or, rather, imagine together with the cabs. One rainy day I figured that the rain looked like yellow. The yellow rain landed on our coats, we hurried as usual, yet something was different. It was perhaps the awakening to the spring, the anticipation, or coming into this realization that the colors are there around us. The everyday is packed with shapes, colors, lived and animated livelihood, art, design. Anything.

I love one thing, *pink*. Now, when That color arrives in the city, occupying the busy business and residential avenue of New York, something Is in the Air. Last year this extravaganza color paraded a good amount of time on the street called the Park Avenue. Will Ryman’s Roses created from fiberglass and stainless steel, and thus having a naive and almost clumsy look in them, were just lovely vitamin for the city. Imagine pink and red roses in gigantic size, and then the bugs on top of them. Ryman’s roses were attractive, and most importantly, I found my favorite bug. I had a reason to walk the street over and over again. I had a reason to think that the city is beautiful even on a rainy day when windgusts are kissing my back, when my mind is somewhere far away thinking of the faraway places of the wildest unconquered nature. Here my gigantic bug was making my day happy, and making a boring and secured street plan look childish and funny, a little bit tilted even. It is surprising what art can make out of the convenience of the everyday as it mixes with more serious urban plans. Only a Spider by my favorite artist Louise Bourgeois would make me happier, if I met one on a street corner of course.