Photography by Milka Alanen
Every year some three thousand marriages are made in Finland between a Finn and a foreigner. In Helsinki they amount to one in five of all marital unions, in all of Finland to one in eight.
Immigration in Finland is often discussed in overtly negative tones. What we wanted was to help to eradicate the fear of the unknown. We decided to approach the changing image of Finnishness by introducing some of the many couples where one spouse originally comes from outside Finland.
We sought to show that Finns no longer always look the way we are used to seeing them. On the other hand, a child appearing thoroughly Finnish may well have a parent from another country. The lives of children born of multicultural relationships are enriched by the diverse backgrounds of their parents.
In the book New Finns, which was published in September 2014, we introduced 12 such families and this exhibition is dedicated to their pictures. We believe the pictures to show that all of us are more similar than different, no matter where we come from.
The past year has been a challenging one: there are more refugees now than ever since the second World War. The humanitarian crises echo here in the north as well.
It is paramount that we do not give in to fear. The path to a safer society lies in the open minded receiving of the future Finns.
A basic need of all people is to be seen and accepted. Only thus do we guarantee that Finland remains a good place to live.
In Helsinki, 10.5.2016
Collaboration: Duo kahden kuulttuutin perheille, Familia Club ry, Annantalo and Kolibri Festivaali