IHME Helsinki 2023

Hiwa K: Chicago Boys – While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming


In IHME Helsinki Commission 2023 Chicago Boys – While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming a diverse group of people formed an amateur band and practiced together twice a week for six weeks between 17 April and 27 May 2023. The band consisted of musicians and non-musicians who are united by the desire to play music and to think about the connections between the neoliberal economy and environmental changes to everyday life.

There were two types of band rehearsals: private rehearsals on Mondays at Kulttuurikeskus Stoa among the band members and public rehearsals, open to everyone, on Saturdays in various public spaces in Helsinki. In both rehearsals, the participants shared stories, narratives, observations and songs and trained together to shape and push a growing “snowball” of thoughts and songs about the neoliberal condition and its ties to the environmental crisis and social issues. All rehearsals were a platform for bringing different understandings and experiences of everyday life and turning them into a diverse interpretation of a neoliberal economy.

The IHME Helsinki Commission 2023 ended with the last public rehearsals at Stoa Cultural Center on Saturday 27 May 2023. Public rehearsals were held for six weeks on Saturdays in five different locations: Lapinlahti Hospital, Puhos shopping center, Riistavuori forest and senior center, Stansvik forest and village community, Matokallio forest and Myllykylä village hall. You can read more about each public rehearsal below.

During the six-week training period, the amateur band rehearsed to play the following songs:

Bella Ciao (Italian partisan song, sung in Finnish, Chinese and Farsi)
Tuuli se taivutti koivun larvan (Finnish folk song, sung in Finnish)
Aman, hey Aman (Kurdish folk song, sung in Kurdish)
Matokallio rock for Matokalliorock (Tune: Rock around the clock, sung in Finnish and English, the lyrics written by one of the band members)
Kalevala inspired song about endangered mosses (sung in Finnish, the lyrics written by one of the band members)

Almost simultaneously with the Helsinki version, Chicago Boys – While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming also took place in Sulaymaniyah, Kurdistan, Iraq – the artist Hiwa K’s birth city. The group on Helsinki stayed in touch with the band in Sulaymaniyah remotely.

In Helsinki, Chicago Boys – While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming project was carried out in collaboration with Stoa Cultural Centre and Itäkeskus Library. The Commission was made possible by support from Saastamoinen Foundation, Kone Foundation and Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation.

What is this project about?

Chicago Boys – While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming documentation

Watch the documentation of IHME Helsinki Commission 2023 in YouTube

“It immediately gave me the feeling that something is possible here and, at the same time, it’s like, how does this work, where are the instructions for use?”

Audience feedback

Hiwa K talks about the commission

Check out the video at IHME YouTube channel

Panel discussion: Searching the Soul of the City

In the last public rehearsals of the IHME Helsinki Commission 2023, Chicago Boys – While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming, in Stoa Cultural Center a panel discussion was held on urban activism and urban planning in the sustainability transformation. The discussion brings out the points of friction between urban activism and urban planning with the help of seven panelists. Among the panelists are representatives of urban activism, landscape architecture and research. The following questions are answered in the discussion: where is the soul of the city to be found? How should Helsinki and urban planning be developed so that both ecological and social sustainability and diverse public spaces are secured for different city dwellers?

Watch the panel discussion on YouTube

How did you experience Chicago Boys?

Tell us and Hiwa K how did you experience the artwork

Tell us about your experience

Chicago Boys in the Media

On Recognising the Moment of Hope: Speaking in Echoes With HIWA K.

Ali Akbar Mehta, NO NIIN Magazine, Issue 15

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We combine art, science, and climate work