I was born into 1970’s Finland. At that time children were taught that to be born in Finland equals winning in the lottery. Up until the beginning of the new millennium we honestly believed it: a jackpot, with all the winning numbers.
Jackpot - that’s what Finland was. One of the most educated, most equal, most democratic, least corrupted and most emancipated countries in the world. Not only did we have Paavo Nurmi and Lasse Viren (go ahead Google them) but we also produced more olympic medals per capita than any other country. One medal for every 17 000 Finns. We rose from the 1990’s depression and created a prosperous information society with Nokia, one of the most powerful corporations in the world. We elected a female president, won the world championship in ice-hockey and even the Eurovision song contest. The Finn stepped out of greasy factory halls into polished meeting rooms, learned his clumsy business English, his table manners and his fifty shades of ties.
Then something happened. Some time in the beginning of the new millennium we figured out that we only had reached half of the jackpot. It was a win, yes, but a hell of a lot smaller and more bitter than what we had expected. Jackpot is about this realm, this crisis, but also about our national characteristics with strange quality.
In the past decade Finland has become a drastically different country, like an orienteer with no map or self-esteem. Jobs are disappearing, safety nets are breaking down, market forces are ruling. Our world is changing more rapidly than we are; our ability to control our own fate is disappearing and our everyday life is getting filled with threats we blame the outside world for.
We are finding ourselves at the border of two worlds. On one hand, we are brought up by a stern, northern, Lutheran and straightforward culture. On the other hand, we are part of a complicated and often frightening, globalisating world. ”One leg in the barn, the other at the tennis court. One hand around the udder, the other on the remote control”, pictures Ismo Alanko, a Finnish musician. Finns are doing the same thing as many others: curling up inwards, fearing the outside world. Nationalism is rising and suspicions against foreigners are becoming more common among ordinary citizens. Jackpot is representing the images of a northern backyard and its people whose jackpot has gone out of date.