Aurora Ala-Hakula

Writer and essayist

Photo: Jussi Virkkumaa

At the residence, I will be writing an essay novel that documents the diverse gig culture on the west coast of Finland. It is a transnational culture, as the musicians and the audience come from very different backgrounds, especially when it comes to experimental and indie music. In the summer, there are a lot of gigs in memorable environments in small towns, which helps to make local cultures visible.

An essay novel offers a lot of possibilities. I have invited musicians and gig organisers to appear as guest voices in the book, which means that the working methods used are based on listening to the actors of gig culture. In practice, this means, for example, that Lydia Lehtola will be a visitor in the novel as an essayist. She will write from an artist’s point of view about the same gig that I write about as a representative of the audience.

The voice of my essay novel’s narrator is based on the relationship between my aesthetic observations and collective perceptions. In addition to being able to listen to musicians and gig organisers, this also allows me to relate my own observations to knowledge about the local living environments on the west coast, which are currently being altered by the Anthropocene.

I will be making the book-object meaningful together with graphic designer Pauliina Nykänen and illustrator-animator Heta Bilaletdin. Creating a book-object within a working group, all participants of which are made visible as its authors, is a conscious practice. It allows for an imaginative yet user-friendly design of the book-object.

The way I see it, the book-object can be reinvented, as it were, with each new work together with the working group. The book has a huge amount of historical potential that we can harness. Collaborating with a graphic designer and illustrator from the very beginning allows us to design the book together and make it practical and imaginative.

In my texts, I discuss the Anthropocene, alternatives to individual authorship, concrete utopias and change. Combining different literary genres in one work is a meaningful way for me to approach an essay novel.

This autumn, I have been working on a video essay about Jenny Hval’s music. In addition to me, the working group includes cinematographer Minna-Kaisa Kallinen and sound designers Kaino and Heidi Wennerstrand.

All four books that I have been involved in making have been created within a working group. I have acted as the editor and writer of Säihkyvät utopiat (2022), as the translator of Glitchfeminismi: Manifesti (2022), as the essayist of Karri Kokko’s poetry book Käsialoja (2020) and as the writer of Kaupunkikaleidoskooppi (2018).