How to be a hospitable without being a motel:  Thinking Hospitalities How to be a hospitable without being a motel: Thinking Hospitalities

How to be a hospitable without being a motel: Thinking Hospitalities

Rehearsing Hospitalities Companion 1, (ed.) Yvonne Billimore and Jussi Koitela, (pub.) Archive Books, Berlin, in collaboration with Frame Contemporary Art Finland, Helsinki, FI

Museum of Impossible Forms (m{if}) is a cultural centre run by artists/ activists/ curators/  philosophers/ hustlers located in Kontula, East-Helsinki. Within the method of exchange, we strive to work with the existing culture(s) of Kontula and East Helsinki, with specifically seeking to develop a relationship with the organisations, projects, commercial shops, and community nodes in the area. We equally wish to participate in the continuous flow of an emergent culture that develops daily inside and outside the premises of the Museum of Impossible Forms, and the Kontula mall spaces.

We are striving towards para-institutional culture that focuses on ‘Alternate Pedagogy’ through the use of space at Museum of Impossible Forms – essentially, a multilingual library and multimedia archive; as well as a workshop and exhibition space. It facilitates curated discursive art programs, with an opportunity for norm-critical dialogue framed within the discourse of decoloniality, intersectional feminism, and queer theory. These equally create a complex mind-space fuelled by these socio-political ideologies that are shared by the members of the m{if}, and that becomes visible through our various efforts. That is, we want to be hospitable, but we are not a motel, we want something in return. As in, the basis of all our practice is that we are positioning ourselves within this specific political context and request that all whom we work with builds that basis with us, or at least is willing to engage with it.

Since its formation, the philosophy of m{if} as a collective and as a space has been concerned with issues of community, sharing, collaboration and hospitality. What is meant by hospitality pragmatically can take many forms? Essentially hospitality involves ‘care’ as a central node in the m{if} scheme. This often means addressing often overlooked elements of practice such as thinking about creating a sustainable and welcoming environment at our events, including accessible facilities and food. The notion of care extends from these elemental aspects towards more complex issues of economics and labour politics. Museum of Impossible Forms is a free space with the mandate to make available our resources (archive, library, workshop) and expertise to the surrounding communities. Furthermore, we compensate invited guests, artists, curators and speakers to support the integrity and ethics of cultural labour which is all too often underpaid, and underappreciated.

Care and consciousness towards ethical labour practices also mean that Museum of Impossible Forms is a safer space in more ways than one. Not only does m{if} advocate for safer space in its usual articulations of “(a) a supportive, non-threatening environment that encourages open-mindedness, respect, a willingness to learn from others, as well as physical and mental safety; (b) a space that is critical of the power structures that affect our everyday lives, where power dynamics, backgrounds, and the effects of our behaviour on others are prioritized; and © a space that strives to respect and understand survivors’ specific needs” – it is also a space that specifically entangles different realities and experiences with collaboration, participation and a space for the audience that is prompted by ideas of utopia and oppression, history and the future, borders, time, art and technology, and, more importantly, community. Live conversations, travelogues, discussion sessions and performances, and exhibitions of new and archival material interrogate our shared histories and forge new collaborations across time and space.

Relationship to knowledge and ways of knowing

A desire to work within the ‘centre/margin’ binary, presented in a geographical and ideological case, and the increasing need for para-museums such as m{if} to facilitate platforms of alternate pedagogies, has been instrumental in defining the space and our collective praxis within it. Peter Mayo, who writes on both Gramsci and Freire, asks a simple question that all political education must ask itself: “what side are we on when [we] teach, educate and act?” The question that we at Museum of Impossible Forms are asking is, “How can we propose an alternative?”

Where is our agency?

To speak up

To speak out

To critique

To transform

To impact

To take space

To make space

To give way

To see

To listen

To be heard?

We at Museum of Impossible Forms wish to complicate the words ‘Museum’, and ‘Impossible’. For us, the word museum already contains within it the contemporary notions of the para-museum, the counter museum, the anti-museum. Museum no longer represent the ivory towers and petrification machines, where objects are preserved and inventoried in accordance with their cultural and historical ‘value’. Rather, they must take upon themselves to (re)establish their relationship to society and take on the role of being educational. For us, the Museums today must continue to ask on a regular basis, ‘what must be done?’ Not just for itself, but for us as members of a socio-political society. It must ask, how do we choose to act?

Towards Gathering for Rehearsing HospitalitiesFor Gathering for Rehearsing Hospitalities, Museum of Impossible Forms will non-perform ‘A series of soft gestures towards Hospitality’ These gestures will be the result of direct/indirect collaborations between Frame Contemporary Art Finland, Museum of Impossible Forms, nynnyt, Asematila, Artist Collective Bread Omens (consisting of Jani Anders Purhonen and Elena Rantasuo), Heidi Hänninen, Bread makers from Tikke Restaurant, as well as other invited guests and participants from Kontula.

  1. The First gesture of Hospitality is to invite and welcome people into one’s own space, of relinquishing agency and authorship

    Museum of Impossible Forms welcomes and opens its doors to the organisers, invited speakers, and guests of Frame’s ‘Rehearsing Dialogues’, a series of conversations, discussions, presentations, and happenings performed daily.

  2. Devising together the tools required to counter Institutional Hegemony is the Second gesture of Hospitality

    We will host nynnyt, a feminist collective duo consisting of Selina Väliheikki and Hanna Ohtonen, who will open the space through a workshop on ‘How to work responsibly with Imperfect Tools’. Through their talk, they will outline complexities within Finnish Contemporary Art spaces and the problematics within the Institutional spaces.

  3. The exploration of sustenance and sustainability is the Third gesture of Hospitality

    In Collaboration with Asematila, Museum of Impossible Forms will co-host Bread Omens as an installation and para-site event in Kontula Mall, in front of the Kontula Public Library; where they will be exploring bread-making as a method for building and sustaining communities.

  4. To participate with and involve those who live amongst us is the Fourth gesture of Hospitality

    Along with artist and activist Heidi Hänninen, the project will work with sister institutions within Kontula to host a series of workshops aimed for residents of Kontula.

  5. Producing and Transmitting Knowledge is The Fifth gesture of Hospitality

    Museum of Impossible Forms and Asematila will conceive and present a ‘Bread Archive’, a multi-sensory installation as a method to bridge the two spaces through epistemological knowledges, in this case of bread and its histories within Finnish Cultural memories, within its contemporary fabric and the entanglements of purity, immigration, refuge, borderless-ness, community and participatory knowledge gathering.