Jokinen 2016

The film tells the migration tale of the Finnish communist August Jokinen. Born in Tampere in 1894, Jokinen moved to the United States in 1916. He became known from a show trial against racism organised by the American Communist Party in Harlem, New York, in 1931. In The Yokinen Trial the Finnish Worker’s Club janitor was accused of not defending three African-American communists who had been mistreated at the club’s dance. Jokinen admitted having made a mistake and promised to fight for black rights. Many newspapers including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The New York Herald Tribune reported on the proceedings. Soon afterwards, possibly due to media attention, the US immigration authorities arrested Jokinen. This time he was accused of membership in the Communist Party. Jokinen’s trial proceeded to the lower and Supreme Courts before he lost the case and was deported to Finland. However he decided to go to Petrozavodsk in Soviet Karelia at a time when great numbers of Finnish-Americans migrated to the USSR.

Moving somewhere between historical research, a detective story and an arts and crafts club, the film is based on documentary research. However, it is unconventional, both in terms of form and narrative structure. Jokinen is constructed from newspaper and book quotes as well as the artist’s own narration. Since the piece directly cites texts from the 1930s, it uses some language that is offensive from today’s perspective. By exposing a story from the 1930s, the artist asks whether there are any similarities in the present and the past.

Digital film, 45 min, 16:9, colour, sound

English, Finnish, Russian (English or Finnish subtitles available)

Installation: Projection screen 403 x 227 cm, loudspeakers, dark grey walls, carpet, four chairs

Narrators: Olad Aden, Artur Andreasjan, Peter Gilbert Cotton, Katri Kuusimäki, Leslie Malton, Pertti Rönkkö

Camera, lighting: Anne Misselwitz

Sound: Benjamin Kalisch, Lukas Lücke

Editing, dramaturgical advisor: Janina Herhoffer

Recording engineer, sound design: Jochen Jezussek

Colourist: Matilda Mester

English proofreading: Andrew Boreham

Finnish proofreading: Elina Mikkilä

Russian translation: Elena Loukianova, Maria Oshukova

Produced with the support of AVEK – The Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, Kone Foundation and Arts Promotion Centre Finland

Installation photograph: Sinem Kayacan / Muu galleria, Helsinki

International Premiere: 67. Berlinale, Forum Expanded