Trainee’s Diary Vol. 3



Hi again!


In this third entry I’m going to talk about what has been going on recently.  Now as I’ve said all of the Institutes physical events have been moved to autumn, which is poised to be really, really busy. In the meanwhile, I’ve been working on planning some events of my own as well as doing various online related stuff.

Staying inside has been horribly boring but yeah. For now it’s probably best to do as asked. In some way it’s also nice to have an excuse to stay inside and play games days on end lol. This would have been a great time to get that new Animal Crossing but everyone else has been thinking along the same lines and the consoles are sold out everywhere! Nintendo could have made bank had they known.

If my tiny kitchen had an oven, I would definitely have picked up baking. Having my social media loaded with pictures of sourdough loaves and flower focaccias really makes me want to try those too. Been thinking about something easier to do in limited space like watercolours or calligraphy, I am going to have to visit a crafts store one of these days. I wonder if this is going to be one of those I’m gonna do this and I’m gonna do that stories.

About crafts stores, a thing that has surprised me here under the state of emergency has been that since the Japanese government lacks the power to impose any real sanctions for not complying, the companies are left to do as they please. This has result in that many absolutely non-essential shops such as hairdressers, fishing-goods stores or dance studios on the close-by shopping street have remained open throughout the state of emergency. It seems that whether to remain open or not has been left for the shop owners to decide.

In Tokyo they are lifting the state of emergency in two weeks. Looking forward to regaining some normalcy! Even if whatever comes will probably be different from before.

Together Alone – third round chosen projects

On March 23rd, The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes network launched the Together Alone -project: a fast progressing open call for artists and creatives, many of whose projects were cancelled or postponed due to the COVID-19. Nine weeks and 437 applications later, we have now commissioned 20 artists, creatives and collectives around the globe to reflect upon the current situation through diverse artistic practices. We are incredibly thankful for every application and extremely moved by how creatives have mirrored the major social upheavals of our times through the arts, and most importantly – have done so together. For the third and final application round of Together Alone, we have selected eight projects out of no less than 166 applications:

  • H-ome by Emrecan Tanis
  • In-between by Anna Nykyri
  • Out of the Flood by Invisible Flock & SubZero
  • Soft Variations – Online by Sonya Lindfors
  • Untitled by Caracara Collective
  • Untitled by Miila Westin
  • Unum by Sakari Männistö
  • We need to talk about the future by Anne Pajunen and Psychopomp! Theatre Collective

We will soon share more details of the individual commissioned projects, so remember to follow our social media channels and the hashtag #togetheralonefi for more details.

Selected projects from the first round

Selected projects from the second round

Trainee’s Diary Vol. 2



Trainee’s Diary 2: A change of pace


Hello again! This time a few things about the beginnings of all this.

For the longest time life in Tokyo remained relatively normal and it felt like the pandemic did not really affect Japan. It was only with the postponement of the Olympics and subsequent declaration of the state of emergency, that really made it concrete. There was panic buying of masks and toilet paper but altogether I have not seen anything too crazy compared to pictures from other places. Actually, I have not seen much of anything recently!

All of this really is in stark contrast to weekend before the first restrictions, which coinciding with the best Hanami or cherry-blossom viewing season saw the parks around Tokyo fill with hundreds of thousands of people. There was probably considerable reluctance from the government to take action as that would also mean not being able to have the Olympics as planned. I was of course glad, being able to go out during this season was one of my planned highlights for my time in Japan.

A friend from Finland was visiting me just prior the cut-off of all flights to Finland on 26th of March. A few days before departing back to Finland she had received an email with the purpose of instructing Finnish citizens in crisis-struck regions. We were laughing (in bad taste yes) about which region exactly is the crisis-struck one here, since Japan was really business as usual when compared to the full-on lockdown in Finland at that time. Since then of course it has been the same thing in most places around the world.

This is now my sixth week of telecommuting. I started work at the Institute in February, which means that I was just about to get used to rhythm here when I switched to working from home. Still, as most of my work has been SNS related, there has not been that big a switch in the contents of the work, regardless of where I do it. Of course, not meeting people does take a toll on you.

It would be nice to explore the city a bit more, but obviously taking the metro just for giggles everyday would be irresponsible so walking the neighborhood will have to suffice for now.

If anything, it is nice to get a bit more sleep instead of commuting in the mornings!

Next time a bit more about the telecommuting routine!

Together Alone – the second selection round

The second selection round of Together Alone is now completed! We were thrilled to receive (once again!) no less than 142 applications from homebound artists and collectives around the world. For this second round, seven projects were selected, employing bravely and widely the potentialities of digital culture and taking new paths to create connections between isolated artists and audiences worldwide.

The selected projects from the second round are:

  • Care Practice: Recipes for Resilience by Ceci Moss & Jenni Nurmenniemi
  • Constructing a specialist network to produce knowledge and act as springboard for artistic work by Aapo Nikkanen
  • DEMO by Pekka Airaxin, Caterina Avataneo & Felice Moramarco
  • Felt the Moonlight on my Feet by Jani Ruscica, Sam Watson & Suzanna Pezo
  • Monitor Man in the Time of Pandemic by Yassine Khaled
  • Where from Here by  Lenore Malen & Samir Bhowmik
  • World-Body by Jenna Sutela & Ella Plevin

There is still time to join in on the project – the third and the final deadline for applications is on May 4th at 4 p.m. (EEST).
More information here

Selected projects from the first round

Selected projects from the third round

Trainee’s Diary Vol. 1



Hi! I’m Lauri Selonen and I’ll be blogging from Tokyo, where I’m the intern for Finnish Institute in Japan.

I’m a masters program student at the Centre for East Asian Studies at University of Turku. This internship through EDUFI, while not strictly required for my studies was something that I had wanted to do for quite some time! This is a diary related to my work and/or the extraordinary circumstances we are in. I’ll be posting every other week starting now with stuff that happened before – well, all this happened.

I was absolutely delighted to be picked for this internship since I’ve been looking for ways to spend more time in Japan and especially Tokyo which is probably my favourite city in the world (Osaka is pretty cool too so maybe it’s a tie). Chance to do a 10-month internship here was then really a dream come true! Another thing was that I had never been in an Olympic city before, so that would also be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, right? This would also really cement my Japanese skill, which for me at least has been difficult to keep up without immersion.

Arriving late January, I was really quite excited for setting up my life here. Work seemed interesting if a bit intimidating at first. The institute had organized for the previous intern to stay behind for my training, which was a great way of getting me started. Staff seemed nice and everyone pitched in on making my orientation as comfortable as possible. The work would include communication and organizing of events, as well as planning and executing some events of my own. The institute had various events, seminars and exhibitions planned and it seemed that things would get quite busy!

Moving in and immigration process both went smoothly. I live in Kita district of northern Tokyo. This was a bit far from my place of work at the Embassy compound in the Minato district, but commuting would surely pose no issues and if it did, I figured moving closer would be easy enough. Also living an hour away, I could afford an apartment instead of just a room. Having a kitchen and a bath of my own is nice, not that I intended to spend that much time indoors anyway. (LOL)

Tokyo is such a swirling mass of light and energy. A city of such size that I could live here my whole life without knowing every corner of it. Coming from the middle of nowhere in Finland this prospect was very appealing to me. Whatever I wanted to do I could probably find it here. This idea was actually also a bit intimidating since I had to figure how to make the most of my time here, as if this was some sort of competition. I guess that’s FOMO for you. Luckily ten months is such a long time that I did not get too stuck on the idea.

A bit less than two months of working, I had started to really get my routine down. Scratch that!

129 applications for the first Together Alone round!

We’ve gone through amazing applications by artists and collectives from across the globe – from Finland to Burkina Faso, from Japan to India and Australia. Five projects have now been selected, taking us on an exploration of artistic practices in times of physical isolation: artists weaving futurology and contemporary dance practices, studying fresh-water polyps and creating algorithms based on Covid-19 data, and others focusing on collaborative practices via soundscapes and online reading programmes.

The selected projects from the first round are:

  • Across the Way With… by Shimmer Rotterdam and PUBLICS
  • Bodytalk by Simo Vassinen, Roope Mokka and Maria F. Scaroni
  • Hydra Human Hybrid by Charles Quevillon and Maija Tammi in collaboration with Tedd Robinson
  • Untitled by Maria Korkeila
  • World Wide Window by Mikki Nordman


The project still continues. Kindly send your proposal (max 3 000 characters) by April 20th or May 4th at 4 p.m (EEST) to

Let’s make the best out of this situation – together!

Selected projects from the second round

Selected projects from the third round


The Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes network responds to the challenges of the COVID-19 epidemic by announcing an open call for art projects.

The current crisis is severely affecting the cultural sector. Many artists and creatives whose work is project-based have lost months worth of income.

Amongst the crisis, the mission of the Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes remains unchanged. We exist to promote international mobility, visibility and collaboration of Finnish art, culture and science. That is why we are launching a new and fast progressing open call for Finnish and Finland-based artists and artist groups.


The Institutes are seeking artistic proposals related to the following themes:

  • state of emergency
  • radical change
  • resilience
  • artistic practice in the future
  • alone together

At the same time the project will act as a documentation of the crisis and one of the major social upheavals of our time and gives the artists an opportunity to reflect it through the arts. The application is open to all Finnish and Finland-based professional artists who have lost work opportunities due to the corona epidemic.

The Institutes are commissioning projects from selected artists or artistic groups to be completed by June 30, 2020. The total grant of an individual project is between 1 500–5 000 €. The expenses will be paid as work compensation or by invoice. The suitability for diverse international distribution is considered an asset. The implementation of the project must comply with the national law concerning accessibility of digital services.

The aim of the open call is to ensure the livelihoods of artists and the continuity of international collaboration. Although mobility and physical encounters must now be restricted, we want to support the international networks and cooperation.

The epidemic is revolutionizing the world in ways we could not have foreseen. We are facing a time when it’s necessary to question our way of life – and to come up with new ways of living, working and securing our livelihoods. With Together Alone we want to give a platform and encourage professionals to consider new ways of operating in a situation, where mobility and physical contact are no longer possible. We are especially looking for projects, which emphasize broad international collaboration – without physical contact.

Projects won’t be restricted to be implemented within any particular Finnish Institute’s geographic area but should fit to the sphere of activity of all of the institutes. The projects can take place or be available on the artist’s website, on a public web platform, on Youtube or on an alternative platform with a reach to wide audiences. The medium is not restricted and the result can be for example an artwork, work in progress, performance, a diary, a film etc. The Institutes will include the chosen projects as part of their official programmes and they will be available for all the institutes worldwide. The artist will retain the copyright of the work.

  • The project will be carried out in a manner that will not contradict the regulations of the prevailing state of emergency conditions
  • The project should promote international networking and collaboration of Finnish artists or Finland-based artists
  • The open call encourages international dialogue and creativity beyond national borders Innovativity and experimental approach are encouraged

Send your project proposal (max 3 000 characters) to Please attach a budget, a short CV and a brief communication plan of the project. Send all the files as a single PDF file, maximum 2 Mt by size. The choice will be made by a panel of experts from the Finnish Cultural and Academic Institutes.

SCHEDULE – Proposal deadlines

First deadline by Monday 30.3. 16:00 (Finnish time / GMT +2)
Second deadline by Monday 20.4. 16:00 (Finnish time / GMT +2)
Third and final deadline by Monday 4.5. 16:00 (Finnish time / GMT +2)

All proposals received by the deadline will be considered and a selection will be made within two weeks after the deadline. All submitted project proposals will remain under consideration through all selection rounds.

Selected projects from the first round

Selected projects from the second round

Selected projects from the third round

Works of the iconic artist Tom of Finland to be exhibited in Japan for the first time



<< Following the spread of COVID-19 worldwide, and in accordance with the recommendations of Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare and WHO, we regret to inform you that our upcoming exhibition, “Reality & Fantasy: The World of Tom of Finland”, is postponed. 

The exhibition, and the accompanying programs, will take place in full at a new date this year, once the situation improves. 

We will keep you updated with any developments.

Many thanks for your support and understanding, and of course, keep safe and healthy. >>


We are pleased to announce the first exhibition in Japan of the works of the iconic Finnish artist Tom of Finland (born Touko Laaksonen, 1920-1991). The exhibition, at GALLERY X, is the fruits of a collaboration between the Finnish Institute Japan, the Embassy of Finland in Japan, the Tom of Finland Foundation, The Container gallery, and PARCO. The exhibition is curated by the Tokyo-based curator and director of The Container, Mr. Shai Ohayon. The exhibition was designed to coincide with Tom’s 100th birthday anniversary – #TOMs100.

The exhibition features a selection of 30 historical works, ranging from 1946 to 1989, covering the artist’s entire professional career, and highlighting both his artistic versatility and presenting his identity as an LGBTQ legend who paved the way for LGBTQ rights worldwide and helped to shape gay culture.


About the artist

Tom of Finland (born Touko Valio Laaksonen,1920, Kaarina – 1991, Helsinki), was a Finnish artist known for his homoerotic artworks, and for his influence on late twentieth century culture. During his prolific career, Tom produced over 3,500 illustrations, drawings, woodblock prints, and paintings, mostly featuring men in sexualized poses and compositions, to redefine masculinity and the position of gay men in modern society. He signed his work “Tom” and when his drawings were first published in 1957, the now world-famous “Tom of Finland” was born.

Tom’s works are in many permanent collections worldwide, including NY’s MoMA; Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art; Art Institute of Chicago; The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), LA; Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art, Turku; University of California Berkeley Art Museum; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Kiasma, Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Tom of Finland Foundation, LA.

In 2006, The trustee of The Judith Rothschild Foundation, Harvey S. Shipley Miller, asserted about the Foundation’s gift to the MoMA of five of Tom’s work, “Tom of Finland is one of the five most influential artists of the twentieth century. As an artist he was superb, as an influence he was transcendent.”


About the exhibition

Reality & Fantasy: The World of Tom of Finland, brings together a selection of works, covering the artist’s entire four decades of career, and presents works on paper using a variety of mediums, such as graphite, gouache, markers, and pen & ink. Historically, the images highlight milestones and artistic stylistic developments in Tom’s life and practice—starting with his 1940s and ’50s paintings in gouache, of men in stylish attire and uniforms, such as sailors, soldiers and policemen, in fantastic and romantic compositions, influenced by his army service in Finland—to his stylized depictions of leathermen and muscle men in the ’60s and ’70s, and the cleaner, high contrast and graphic drawings of his later career when he was working in Los Angeles.

The exhibition also features many works commissioned by the Athletic Model Guild (AMG), founded and headed by Bob Mizer in 1945. Tom and Bob had a long-time professional relationship. It was Bob that added “of Finland” to Tom’s name as was the fashion of the day. Reality and Fantasy, includes a number of drawings that appeared in AMG’s magazine Physique Pictorial, including two drawings that appeared on the cover of the magazine (Untitled, from the AGM “Men of the Forests of Finland” series, 1957; and Untitled, from the AGM “Motorcycle Thief” series, 1964.)

The exhibition puts emphasis on Tom of Finland’s role in promoting sensual and erotic depictions of the male body as a catalyst for social change and the acceptance of gay people, while facing a legal and social reality they were fighting to change. Delving into a world of fantasy, with sexual freedom, Tom depicted a new “gay masculinity”, adding to the vocabulary of what gay men were allowed to be by society.


About Tom of Finland Foundation

In 1984, the nonprofit Tom of Finland Foundation (ToFF) was established by Durk Dehner and his friend Tom. As Tom of Finland had established worldwide recognition as the master of homoerotic art, the Foundation’s original purpose was to preserve his vast catalog of work. Several years later the scope was widened to offer a safe haven for all erotic art in response to rampant discrimination against art that portrayed sexual behavior or generated a sexual response. Today ToFF continues in its efforts of educating the public as to the cultural merits of erotic art and in promoting healthier, more tolerant attitudes about sexuality.


About the film

Award-winning filmmaker Dome Karukoski brings to screen the life and work of one of the most influential and celebrated figures of twentieth century gay culture:

Touko Laaksonen, a decorated officer, returns home after a harrowing and heroic experience serving his country in World War II, but life in Finland during peacetime proves equally distressing. He finds post-war Helsinki rampant with homophobic persecution, and men around him even being pressured to marry women and have children. Touko finds refuge in his liberating art, specialising in homoerotic drawings of muscular men, free of inhabitations. His work – made famous by his signature ‘Tom of Finland’ – became the emblem of a generation of men and fanned the flames of a gay revolution.

Director: Dome Karukoski
RUNNING TIME: 1h 56 min
2017 / Finland / Sweden / Denmark / Germany
© Helsinki-filmi Oy, 2017

Notice of telecommuting

According to the instructions from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Finland, the Finnish Institute in Japan will be telecommuting from March 17th. But do not worry, we will continue to create engaging content and keep you busy online! Stay tuned and be healthy!