“The fundamental, dialogical nature of culture perhaps makes it difficult to formulate the concept of cultural appropriation.”
– Sini Mononen in her introductory essay to the IHME Publication
The politicality of art and issues surrounding cultural appropriation were among the themes of the 2017 Festival. “The series of artist interviews – the IHME Marathon – was the programme component that received the most audience-feedback comments,” the Festival’s Executive Director Paula Toppila says. “Its theme was cultural appropriation, and some of the audience felt that the discussion did not sufficiently unpack the problematic nature of the concepts used. That is why the Publication returns once again to ask what are we actually talking about when we talk about cultural appropriation.”
In the Publication compiled for the 2017 Festival the art researcher and critic Sini Mononen frames the Festival’s themes by examining how art speaks and what story it tells. In her article Mononen draws on the thinking of writers including Hannah Arendt and Judith Butler: “Art in itself is public speech. Even if the language of art differs from other political and everyday speech, its voice clearly belongs to the sphere of
public speech, and this makes it essentially political.” Mononen stresses the importance of the ability to make conceptual distinctions. According to her, for example, in talking about the theme of cultural appropriation it is essential to underscore the importance of power relations. It requires that, in the discussion, we clarify the differences between the concepts, for instance, of cultural exchange, mixing of cultural influences, or in the terms used by the cultural researcher Richard A. Rogers: transculturation, cultural dominance, and cultural exploitation.
Mononen’s article can be read in its entirety in the 2017 Festival Publication. Click here for the online Publication >