Press release

Hiwa K to make IHME Helsinki Commission 2023

Hiwa K, photo: Veikko Somerpuro.

Press release 29.9.2022

The Kurdish artist and musician Hiwa K is to make a Helsinki version of his Chicago Boys – While We Were Singing, They Were Dreaming in the spring of 2023. This brings together people from different backgrounds, everyday experiences of neoliberalism, the environmental crisis, and popular music. The work was first realized at London’s Serpentine Gallery in 2010 and has since toured many of the world’s leading art institutions. At its core is a group of people who form both an amateur band and a neoliberalism study group. An open call for participants will be announced in January 2023.

Hiwa K got his basic education in Iraq and continued independent studies by meeting thinkers, visual artists, musicians and theatre makers. After moving to Germany at the age of 25, he studied music under flamenco master Paco Peña. Three years ago, Hiwa K returned to Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan. There, he has acquired a farm and with local people studies how to promote permaculture, i.e. how to live in harmony with the environment. His way of being an artist is reflected in continual criticism of the art-education system, professionally defined art practices, and the artist myth.

“I realized that we must give up our position as artists, in the sense that we produce goods and maintain a market that requires a certain overproduction. What we do is also very unecological. We have caused too much destruction. We should be more of a nurse, and that’s what I do,”

says Hiwa K about his principles as an artist.

“We chose Hiwa K to be the creator of the next commissioned work because he shares values with IHME Helsinki: ecological and social sustainability; experiencing and doing things together; and encouraging and creating change. Chicago Boys offers people an opportunity to get together to share stories and play their chosen music together, in both small and large groups. Besides the core group, the public, too, can participate in band rehearsals,”

says Paula Toppila, Executive Director of IHME Helsinki, who plans to dig her own guitar out of its case after a decades-long hiatus.

Hiwa K’s IHME Helsinki 2023 Commission will take place almost simultaneously in Helsinki and Sulaymaniyah in April-May 2023. Our Helsinki partner is Stoa Cultural Centre in Itäkeskus.

Further information: Executive Director and Curator Paula Toppila,, +358-45-1240096. Press images: Communications Planner Saara Moisio, +358-45-2350080

In 2020-22, our work is being made possible by support from our founding body Pro Arte Foundation Finland, along with Kone Foundation and Saastamoinen Foundation. In 2023–2025, we are being supported by the Saastamoinen Foundation, Kone Foundation and the Abakanowicz Arts and Culture Charitable Foundation.

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