Photo: Kalle Kallio

Jussi Lehtonen examines temporary communities in the Second Home performance

Jussi Lehtonen examines expression communities, which are deliberately assembled to include people who would not otherwise be involved with one another.

“I am a researcher in the ArtsEqual project coordinated by the University of the Arts Helsinki. I study the formation of communities that include two types of professional artists: those who have come to Finland as refugees and those who were born and raised in Finland.

These communities are hybrids which have been deliberately assembled and exist to express a certain matter. In this project, I study language use and the process of becoming a member of a community together with Professor of Applied Language Studies Sari Pöyhönen from the University of Jyväskylä. In this connection, we want to problematise the concept of integration and to open the Finnish National Theatre to performers and audiences from outside Finland.

Besides the integration process of the people who have come to Finland as refugees, the focus is on the acclimatization of the original Finns to the new situation. We concentrate on the Finnish theatre institution and its ability or inability to open its doors to professionals and audiences from outside Finland. The objective of our project is a shared performance and the stage as a space for encounters. The oldest Finnish-language theatre in the world can act as the pioneer here.

The focus of my study is on the emancipation of artists and art institutions. Artists will find their way to communities with an urgent need for art. In all my projects, I focus on art as an activator of the excluded or marginalised and as an improver of their quality of life. Their stories and their inner life begin to feed our art and our self-understanding. The Second Home project also contributes to public debate about the situation of artists who have come to Finland as refugees.

I am also interested in theories of the mind. How we read each other’s minds and construct our ideas of ourselves and the other, and keep misunderstanding one another. As human beings, we have the opportunity for empathy, which we can seize or ignore.”

The Second Home at the Finnish National Theatre

Further information about the Second Home on the Finnish National Theatre’s Touring Stage website