Helsinki celebrates its first ever Chilean Culture Week

Activities on the festival program include concerts, dance performances, photographic displays and an exhibition of Mapuche artifacts.

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Helsinki has been transformed into a hub of Chilean activity as the Nordic capital celebrates its first ever ‘Chilean Culture Week in Finland’.

Posters promoting all things Chilean have been plastered on walls throughout the city and the country’s biggest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, has published a program of the week’s events in its pages.

Organized by the Cultural Affairs Department of Chile’s Foreign Ministry, the festival is being held to commemorate 80 years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations between the two countries.

On the program are a series of musical events, cultural exhibitions, ethnographic talks and literary events designed to introduce Chilean culture to the Finnish public.

Kicking off the activities earlier this week was a concert by acclaimed Chilean folk-rock group Los Jaivas, which was followed by a display of Chile’s national dance, the cueca, accompanied by Chilean musicians Daniel Muñoz and María Paz Santibañez.

The week-long festival’s main attraction is an exhibition of over 320 artifacts and modern artworks from Chile’s largest indigenous group, the Mapuche people, which was officially opened by Finnish president Tarja Halonen.

On loan from the Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art, the travelling exhibition entitled “Mapuche: Semillas de Chile” (Mapuche: Seeds of Chile) contains a broad range of jewelery, textiles, photographs and audiovisual materials.

On display with the exhibition in Helsinki’s Helinä Rautavaara Museum are a series of textile pieces from Mapuche artist María Teresa Curaqueo and a photographic display from Chilean photographer Adolfo Vera.

At the close of the Chilean Cultural Week, the Mapuche exhibition will be transported to the Siida Museum in Inari, a region populated by Finland’s indigenous Sami people who have expressed interest in forming links with the Mapuche.

Capping off the week’s events will be a series of round table discussions on cultural exchange and indigenous customs led by well-known Finnish journalist Jaana Kanninen.