NoVA student, Ieva Laube shared her internship experience at The Finnish Museum of Photography, for three months in Spring 2021.
How did you find the internship and apply for the position?
As my professional background and pedagogical interests have been related to working in art institutions, I wished to have an internship at a Finnish museum or an art space to learn about their education practices. I’m keen on exploring museum education programs and audience engagement practices through a critical lens, seeing how learning settings are shaped, who is included and excluded from these practices and what different groups of people – both on the side of instigating learning projects and engaging with them from an audience perspective, understand with the concept of education. I have also been long interested in the matter of photography, archives, memory, and storytelling, therefore Finnish Museum of Photography seemed like a great match. I knew some of their projects and had heard about the wonderful photography collection that they have, and that sparked my interest of what kind of learning projects and situations might arise. I reached out to them and as it still was the time of pandemic restrictions, they wished to do something in public space, like urban tours. As I have experience with exploring urban matters and designing urban tours back at home in Riga, Latvia, the museum offered me to design the concept for Street Photo Walks with street photographers and oversee the whole project.
What was your role and work tasks?
I was designing and overseeing the urban street tour project from A to Z. I started out with researching the history of street photography and exploring the collections of the museum to see how their material could be integrated into the Street Photo Walks. Then I dived right into researching Finland-based street photographers and creatives working with the urban matter. I conceptualized the framework of the Street Photo Walks – a series of events devoted to revealing the secrets of street photography, training one’s eye to spot what tends to go unnoticed and capturing the candid life on street. I also designed the concepts and together with the photographers developed the content for four different tours: poetic street photography and urban poetry tour with Naser Bayat and Ignacio Pérez Pérez, feminist street photography with Jaana Rinne, Helsinki as urban scenography for fleeting choreographies with Jari Pulkkinen and an urban exploration workshop with Lorenzo ‘SerraGlia’ Servi to find beauty designed by accident – a workshop concept he had designed and operated in the past.
Throughout the project I was planning the content and structure for the walks and coordinating communication with the invited photographers, and prepared tour scripts and information packages for museum guides who were facilitating the tours. I also developed all texts and communication materials for the publicity of the tours, facilitated the workshop walk with Lorenzo Servi and even created live social media content straight from the tours. Finally, I also designed the feedback forms for audiences to collect their impressions and opinions. All in all, it was very important for me to try out my ideas and learning concepts and have a diverse group of photographers who were invited to co-lead the tours – not just to have Finnish speaking photographers but also practitioners from different culture backgrounds, social identities, and ages. I’m also proud and appreciative that during this short time frame the museum was open to try out things differently – have a non-Finnish intern and reach out to English-speaking audiences that they hadn’t previously addressed. Now the museum is more invested into exploring the international audience of Finland.
What was your biggest take away from the internship?
As always, it’s the human matter – the people you meet, the conversations you have, the ways you learn together. I’m really grateful for these experiences, for the trust and confidence placed in me in doing and building this project from ground up and also the warm-hearted and supportive group of people I met and worked with. I also got new impressions about the working life in Finland, got to test out my ideas, refine my own practices and ways of thinking and all in all – set up a great creative learning project that hopefully continues next summer.
Text by Ieva Laube