Modern Finnish folk art appears more relaxed, funnier, in the positive sense crazier than folk art in the rest of the world – in our opinion. If it is a question of an optical illusion, do we need to fix it? The strangest inventions, thoughts, ideas and performances stick in our minds. When humor is their semaphore, they lead directly to the sources of pleasure, momentarily revealing other possible realities. Because the enjoyment of art is deep, the enjoyment of humor superficial, their combination always connotes something controversial in this world.
At the change of century, modern folk art gained the sobriquet ITE, an acronym formed from the Finnish phrase itse tehty elämä (“self-made life”). The phenomenon has points of convergence with the creativity of primarily self-taught art-makers generally operating outside the sphere of established art institutions and systems, as well as its surprising, strange and original manifestations (outsider art) around the world. But at the same time Finnish ITE is in its own unique way gritty, “animalistic” (bears and elks are popular themes), ironic, heartfelt, and when viewed from afar, exotic.
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