Wild-berry Postcard from Self-Employed Tourists


MARRASKUU / November
9.11- 28.11. 2010
Wild-berry Postcard from Self-Employed Tourists


Second Forest -projekti yhdessä Mikko Lipiäisen, Richard Thompson Coonin ja Junya Lek Yimprasertin kanssa.
Näyttely on osa kansainvälistä X-op -taidetapahtumaa.

PRESS STATEMENT
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Wild-Berry Postcard from Self-Employed Tourists

An installation about the exploitation of the Finnish Everyman’s Right and global migrant labour by the globalizing Finnish wild-berry industry.
“Why must small-scale farmers from north Thailand travel to Finland to pick wild-berries and their daughters sell their souls in Pattaya?*
Because, in the on-going neo-liberal globalizing of food supplies, agricultural policies in Thailand are still no exception to the overall trend to terminate small-scale farming and force, all around the world, hundreds of millions of rural people off the land into desperate struggle with cycles of poverty and debt.
For some years thousands of neglected Thai farmers have been travelling to Sweden and Finland to pick wild forest berries for Scandinavia’s expanding wild-berry industry but, despite high expectations, when their 2-3 month stint of virtual slave-labour ends, more than half these pickers find themselves in worse financial debt than when they left home.
“What kind of industry bases profitability on the massive work input of ready-made oppressed small farmers?”*

Recent heavy investment by the Finnish wild-berry processing companies is entirely based, and dependent upon, the importation of cheap Asian labour: rural workers that are seduced and invited to come to Finland as ‘self-employed tourists’ to work 15 hours a day for the berry-processing companies on tourist visas. The companies, and the state authorities, are eager to present themselves as good hosts – as hosts for example of exciting Scandinavian berry-safaris.

In reality these companies, and the state authorities, are just exercising a tired corporate logic that values money above human beings and nature. They are, furthermore, ruthlessly exploiting the Finnish Everyman’s Right: turning our forests into corporate playgrounds.

The naïve logic of the Finnish wild-berry industry and the growing scale of the commercial exploitation is becoming unbearable and stands, now, in direct confrontation with our common, cultural heritage, notably the free and peaceful exercise of the Everyman’s Right in rural areas.

The rapid, uncontrolled growth and globalization of the Finnish wild-berry industry is impacting directly on many core aspects of Finnish society and culture and requires immediate attention. The state must be held to account for promoting this corporate abuse of Labour Law and the Everyman’s Right.

For the well-being of small farmers and poor people everywhere, for the future of Finnish culture, in the name of the spirit of our Everyman’s Right, artists and cultural thinkers must engage, now, in the future of our forest resources – not only in terms of documenting, analyzing and criticising, but through envisioning the pathways that society could take. This means much more active engagement in the exploration and examination of ways and means that could produce healthy, new, sustainable balances between ‘Nature and Employment’ that fully respect the spirit of our Everyman’s Right.


***

Designed and produced by artist-activist Richard Thompson Coon and labour-activist Junya Yimprasert in collaboration with the Art Collective Hirvitalo in Tampere, with assistance from Mikko Lipiäinen, Teemu Takatalo, Suva, Ismo Torvinen, Ben and Anton Thompson Coon, Kristiina Puukari.

Curated by Second Forest Project, Hirvitalo Art Collective / Mikko Lipiäinen.

Sponsored by SASK, Taidekoulu MAA, Alfred Kordelinin säätiö, Diivari Oy, Oy FF Filmfotograferna AB.

The installation forms a part of the X-OP Platform Helsinki which presents the international X-OP network to the art scene in Helsinki, and gathers local artists to reflect on current societal questions.

For further information about: Second Forest Project contact mikko.lipiainen[at]gmail.com Global migrant labour issues contact Junya Yimprasert: lektlc[at]gmail.com

* VOIMA 8 l 2010 LOKAKUU

Tekijöiden haastattelu / Interview :
http://vimeo.com/etsaaunohtaa/k25tthesecondforestteam