Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pekka Hako: The Interview

Pekka Hako worked as the Cultural Counselor when the students at Catholic University and Aalto University gathered at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, DC for a 9 day design charette to determine the design of what ultimately became the Kalevalakehto on Seurasaari. An avid filmmaker, Pekka knows what makes a story and how to capture it, but also easily manages to be the entertainment himself. There's never a dull moment when Pekka is around! I asked him some questions to which he responded with the following (again, never a dull moment!)

BW: Why and when did you stop loving the Kalevala ?  
PH: I never started. The Kalevala is, or was, obligatory reading at school, and I found it rather boring at the time. My links to the national epic are mostly indirect – i.e., via the music of Sibelius, the paintings of Gallen-Kallela, etc. 
BW: Have you ever actually read it as a great book? Recently?
PH: No.
BW: How did you get involved with Travis Price and the Kalevalakehto / Spirit of Place?
PH: I guess I have played a not inconsiderable role in the project. Travis came to Helsinki in connection with the Helsinki-Washington [My Helsinki] programme two years ago, and it started from there. I met Travis in Washington a couple of times, and the idea seemed interesting. The rest is history.
BW: What has this venture done to revive your perceptions of the Kalevala?
PH: Not much yet, but I expect it will help.
BW: What is one of the most amusing and odd things this has and is bringing to life?
PH: Don’t know about amusing or odd, but the project has certainly brought a new lease of life to the outdoor museum island of Seurasaari which has been in search of purpose for quite some time.
BW: What is your spirit of place, your sacred space, where do you go again and again to commune with the sacred?
PH: Uh-oh… a tall order. My sacred space is the City of Helsinki, its parks, streets and the sea. 
BW: Do you think the Kalevala story can go beyond “the Lord of the Rings”, Kalevalakehto, and if so where would you take it next.
PH: Someone will undoubtedly write a rock musical around it sooner or later.
BW: Who are you? What is the Finnish spirit to you?
PH: I’m largely a stranger to myself. The Finnish spirit is a combination of extreme ambition and low self esteem. No other nation would have rushed to demand a recount after the recent Newsweek magazine Best Country in the World award.
BW: What’s your favorite salmon recipe?
PH: One containing as little salmon as possible.
BW: Do you believe in metaphors?
PH: No. Anything can mean anything to anyone. It’s a matter of agreement.

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