How it all took of
The project was started 2014 by Heidi Lunabba FIN and Ilar Gunilla Persson SWE for Jeppis Pride festival in Jakobstad. Jeppis Pride was the first pride festival in this small town on the western coast of Finland. Prior to the festival there was a aggressive debate in the opinions segment in the local newspaper, mainly from Christian fundamentalists. It escalated into threats about that one should not go into town on the day of the festival.
Debates on people’s LGBTQI rights come now and then in different places and situations, opponents share noisily narrow minded and hurtful opinions. The vast majority are often on the side of the minority, but remain invisible. We felt that in Jakobstad the big hetero majority wanted to show their support for the festival and the LGBTQI-community. We were making the pride exhibition “We are Already Here” at Galleri Gro, but we felt we really needed to go out of the gallery and into Public space, then we realised public space is not big enough, so we invited everyone to join in their own private spaces.
With the washing line, we wanted to create an accessible, casual and creative tool for everyone to show their support. The response was stunning, Washing Lines in the Colors of the Rainbow, where seen not only in the town centre, but around town, far out in the villages and from many of the islands in the archipelago. At the day of the pride parade new images tagged #tvattlina were popping up on Instagram all the time. Trough Jeppis Pride and the Washing Lines people were giving the LGBTQI-community the gift of acceptance and support.
Since the launch of the project has toured with the project in the Scandinavian countries. We believe that the situation in Jakobstad is quite common, a small homophobic minority generate a unfriendly atmosphere but the majority are often with the LGBTQI-community. It is seen as a matter of course to treat everyone equally, but for those who are afraid to face homophobia it can mean a lot to know that you as a friend, neighbor, colleague, relative or as a institution or event is sympathetic to HBTIQ people.
We received funding from Nordic Culture Point, Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Swedish-Finnish Cultural Foundation and started touring to Pride festivals in the Nordic Countries. First of in 2015 was Sapmi Pride in Karasjokk, Norway and Sami Centre for Contemporary Art. In Sweden we visited West Pride in Gothenbourg, Falu Pride in cooperation with Dalarnas Museum and Gotland Pride in cooperation with Almedalens Bibliotek. In Finland we were part of Helsinki Pride in cooperation with Ateneum and Turku Pride as part of the exhibition ”Hand Made Politics” curated by Katve Kaisa Kontturi at Galleri Titanik. In 2016 we were off to Raseborg Pride in cooperation with Galleri Elverket and Ekenäs Museum. We were also part of Kainuu Pride in Finland and Gotland Pride in Sweeden in cooperation with the Gotland Art Museum.
In 2017 we joined forces with the Culture for all project in Finland and their Initiative Finland 100 in the colours of the rainbow, to celebrate that the equal [same-sex] marriage law finally went into effect in Finland, on March 1, 2017. We hung a washing line in rainbow colors at the entrance to the Cable factory cultural centre in Helsinki, The washing line will be a flag for diversity at the Kabelfabriken at regular intervals during the 100 year anniversary of Finland’s independence. Several art and culture institutions such as the Helsinki City Museum and Stoa culture centre in Helsinki also hung Washing lines in rainbow colors on March 1, 2017.
Washing Lines in the Colors of the Rainbow all over the world
The main idea of Washing Line is that it is easy for anyone to do and free for anyone to use. Instead of us travelling around hanging washing we invite YOU to make the project yours. Everyone is welcome to participate; individuals, institutions, companies, etc. The project is going on everywhere and all the time. You can hang a Washing Line whenever you feel like it, to mark a political event, to protest against discrimination, to mark events such as a Pride Festival, a celebration, a cultural event or to show where you stand while hanging your colour laundry to dry. The Washing line concept is free for all to use and the project has a life of its own.