Älä saapastele onnesi ohi! MSC Finland – Tom’s Club’s 45th Anniversary Exhibition
Älä saapastele onnesi ohi! is the 45th anniversary exhibition of MSC Finland – Tom’s Club, established in 1976. In addition to works by Tom of Finland, the exhibition presents pieces by Leeku, as well as material created for MSC by photographer Mikko Karekivi in the 2000s.
Älä saapastele onnesi ohi! (i.e. a leather-boots-themed version of a Finnish saying, “Don’t walk [in boots] past your happiness”) is the 45th anniversary exhibition of MSC Finland – Tom’s Club, established in 1976. MSC is a Finnish social club for leather & fetish men, which has been bringing together men with various fetishes for decades now. The anniversary exhibition Älä saapastele onnesi ohi! presents art owned by the club or created by its members from across the decades.
Over the years, MSC’s visual image has been influenced by several individuals, some of whom have been quite prominent figures in the art world – the most famous of these being Touko Laaksonen, who achieved international recognition under the pseudonym Tom of Finland. In addition to works by Tom of Finland, the exhibition presents pieces by Leeku, who died of AIDS, as well as material created for MSC by photographer Mikko Karekivi in the 2000s.
The exhibition includes copies of the Prätkäposti magazine published by MSC from different decades. Since the founding of the club, the magazine was the most important communications channel for MSC. Prätkäposti was published up until the mid-2000s, at which time the club website replaced the print medium as the club’s main media outlet. Prätkäposti was made with incredible dedication and passion. Fetish stories and illustrated stories were an important part of the magazine. Among other material, the exhibition features illustrations and original works made for Prätkäposti by Tom of Finland and Leeku.
With Tom of Finland, the Finnish fetish culture has become part of the international art scene. Discussions on Tom of Finland’s production often overlook, consciously or by accident, the narrative that belongs to the minority featured in the images. The vanilla patriarchy representing mainstream culture has felt an immense need to superimpose their take on the interpretation of Tom’s works – either pushing it towards carnivalism or reducing it to a sweeping generalisation of his production as a means of self-expression for the LGBTI community. This exhibition displays Tom’s works through the eyes of his own community. For MSC members, Tom’s works represent the community’s visual memory trace.
Älä saapastele onnesi ohi! is a joint production by MSC Finland – Tom’s Club and the City of Tampere Urban Culture Unit. A panel discussion and a guided exhibition tour, implemented through VTS technology, will be arranged as part of the exhibition. The panel discussion can also be followed remotely. The guided exhibition tours offered in the En ymmärrä tästä mitään! (i.e. “I don’t understand any of this!”) VTS series provide a low-threshold opportunity to seek out art experiences, improving the participants’ visual literacy. The objective of the public outreach work entailed in the Urban Culture Unit’s exhibition activities is to increase people’s appreciation of visual arts and the phenomena surrounding them.
Exhibition is open from 4 September to 26 September 2021, Tue–Fri at 09:00 a.m – 9:00 p.m., Sat-Sun at 10:00 a.m – 6:00 p.m in the Culture House Laikku.
Text Karoliina Paappa, Antti Kauppinen. Käännös Eeva Parviainen
Photos Tom of Finland