Nordic Fresh Air

Freedom of Artistic Expression & Artist-in-Residence Network

Nordic Fresh Air is a Nordic-Baltic network working for freedom of artistic expression in times of increasing censorship and repression of artists. It organises temporary residencies for artists and art professionals, who are forced to leave their home for political reasons. The programme in Finland is co-ordinated by HIAP, Perpetuum Mobilε and Cooperative Buongiorno.

The partners in Nordic and Baltic countries are MoKS (Estonia), Art Lab Gnesta (Sweden), Malmö City (Sweden), KRO – The Swedish Artists’ National Organisation, SafeMUSE(Norway), KiN – Contemporary Art Centres in Norway and Freemuse (Denmark).

The network is funded with support from the Nordic-Baltic Mobility Programme for Culture and the Ministry of Education and Culture, Finland.




In Helsinki, HIAP in collaboration with Perpetuum Mobile, hosted Egyptian musician Ramy Essam, Syrian photographer and curator Issa Touma, Ukrainian curator and director of the Visual Culture Research Center Vasyl Cherepanyn and Mouad ‘El Haqed’ Belrhouate, the latter as part of a Nordic residency organised for the musician by SafeMUSE.

During the period of their stay at HIAP, all residents were offered the opportunity to talk publicly about their situation in a series of talks organised by Perpetuum Mobile in collaboration with the Peace Committee, Amnesty International, Le Monde Diplomatique, the Finnish PEN, the Finnish Institute in the Middle East, the Faculty of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Helsinki and other Human Rights organisations in Finland. Further, Perpetuum Mobile facilitated opportunities for them to present their work and collaborate with local peers.

Ramy Essam returned to Helsinki in May 2015 to perform at the World Village Festival, and launch his new album Mamnoua. The visit was supported by Anna Lindh Foundation, Institute for the Middle East, Kulttuurikameleontit ry, Perpetuum Mobile, HIAP and the World Village Festival.

Currently, HIAP in collaboration with Cooperative Buongiorno, the Scholars at Risk network, and the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki, is hosting Syrian graphic artist and Fine Arts lecturer Ousama Lazkani with a solid programme of workshops, studio visits, lectures and an exhibition organised by the Academy of Fine Arts.

More information:

Ramy Essam: Omatuntoklubi
Issa Touma: Memories of Dead Cities / Syria
Issa Touma: Syrian Lecture Series
Issa Touma: Väkevä Viapori
Vasyl Cherepanyn: Between Revolution and War: Art and Society in Contemporary Ukraine
El Haqed: Performance during the Mobile Talk ‘Debt: IOU or They-O-Us’?
El Haqed: Poetry Jam Africa
Ramy Essam: World Village Festival
Ousama Lazkani: The Four Guardians of the Sky: Dragon, Phoenix, Tiger and Turtle


In collaboration with local and the Nordic Fresh Air network partners SafeMUSE organised and hosted three residencies in 2015:

A Nordic residency (Helsinki, Oslo, Gothenburg) for the Moroccan oppositional rap artist and human rights activist Mouad ‘El Haqed’ Belrhouate.

A Norwegian / Swedish residency (Bergen, Oslo, Malmö) for the Iranian female singer/songwriter Farzane Zamen, an established underground recording artist.

A residency in Tromsø and Oslo for the flutist and composer Ahmed Ali Al Ghanem, former head of the Music Department at the Ministry of Culture in Bahrain and former head of the Bahrain National Orchestra.

Mouad “El Haqed” Belrhouate: The MOBILE TALKS
Mouad “El Haqed” Belrhouate:”Rød på Blå”
Mouad “El Haqed” Belrhouate: Rød på Blå” Facebook-event
Farzane Zamen: Concert at Korskirken, Bergen Facebook-event
Farzane Zamen: Oslo recorded track ‘Pedar’
Farzane Zamen: Concert at Moriska Paviljongen
Ahmed Ali Al Ghanem: Concert at Tromsø Church
Mahsa Vahdat: The Sun Will Rise 2016


In 2015, MoKS hosted Ukranian artist-activist and actor Piotr Armianovski. Among other events in which Piotr participated in Estonia, he had the opportunity to also visit Helsinki during a short trip organised in collaboration with HIAP and Perpetuum Mobile.

More information:

Piotr Armianovski
Piotr Armianovski: MoKS meetings – Art and Provocation
Piotr Armianovski: What Makes a Human
Piotr Armianovski: Kilometre of Sculpture
Berat Işık
Erkan Özgen: OMEGA 3 finissage & artist talk


The Culture Department of the City of Malmö with an expanded residency programme to include activists from other art fields as well, hosted the first Safe Haven musician, Ramy Essam for 2014–2016.

In addition, a second residency programme commenced for a guest writer in 2015. Events in Malmö, Sweden and abroad involved the two guest residents.

More information:

Guest musician Ramy Essam
Guest writer Jude Dibia


In 2014–2015 Art Lab Gnesta hosted visual artist / journalist Giorgi Rodionov from Tbilisi, Georgia, theatre actor, director and playwright Anuja Ghosalkar from Bangalore, IndiaTasneem Khan, director of the research centre ANET in India, and her colleague Savita Vijayakumar. In collaboration with HIAP and Perpetuum Mobile, Art Lab Gnesta organised also a short visit to Helsinki for Giorgi Rodionov.

More information:

Giorgi Rodionov: The white horse in the sky
Anuja Ghosalkar presents her work at Art Lab Gnesta
Anuja Ghosalkar: Staging Our Histories
Tasneem Khan: Senses on alert
Savita Vijayakumar: At the middle scale
Abir Boukhari: Eid Al-Adha 2016
Abir Boukhari: Nohome as a Pattern of Life 2016
Muhammed Ali: Gnesta-Animation 2016



On 7–8.4.2014 HIAP, Perpetuum Mobile and Cooperative Buongiorno in collaboration with the Nordic Culture Point and the Hanasaari Cultural Center for Sweden and Finland, hosted the Safe Haven Finland? Seminar with numerous international guest speakers.

On 3.2.2015 a discussion with the aim to raise awareness about the Safe Haven activitieswas held in Helsinki with guest speakers Ramy Essam, Fredrik Elg (Culture Dpt, Malmö City), Helge Lunde (ICORN – International Cities of Refuge Network) and Iida Simes (Finnish PEN).

On 3.11.2015 Helsinki – The First Safe Haven City in Finland? Symposium was organised by Perpetuum Mobile and HIAP in collaboration with ICORN and Ateneum Art Museum as a forum to address the growing importance of the Safe Haven residencies for art professionals at risk. Keynote speakers in the event were art critic and journalist Ashraf Atraqchi from Iraq, Egyptian musician Ramy Essam, the director of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) Helge Lunde, journalist Iida Simes from Finnish PEN, Helsinki city council member and activist (SDP) Thomas Wallgren and Co-director of Perpetuum Mobile Marita Muukkonen.

SafeMUSE worked on the planning and preparations of a large-scale event on the occasion of the Music Freedom Day 2015, with the aim to build competence in the field of the Safe Music Residencies and Safe Music Havens/Cities of Refuge, and prepare the ground for a formalization of an international music network in the Nordic countries. Part of this work was the Nordic Network Meeting / Preparatory Round Table hosted by SafeMUSE in Oslo on 5.11.2014.

The Nordic Network Conference / Music Freedom Day ARTIST IN RESISTANCE | ARTIST IN RESIDENCE took place in Harstad, Norway, on 2–3.3.2015.

In 2015 SafeMUSE cooperated with ICORN for the best possible adaption of the ICORN City of Refuge scheme that opened also towards musicians. This included the development of a joint network for the guest musicians, hosts and partners.

More information:

Safe Haven Finland? Seminar
Helsinki – The First safe Haven City in Finland? Symposium
Music Freedom Day Harstad 2015
Music Freedom Day Harstad 2015 Facebook-event
Music Freedom Day Harstad 2015 Video
Music Freedom Day Harstad 2016 Facebook-event
Music Freedom Day Harstad 2016 NRK Nordnytt, news coverage / interview
Music Freedom Day Harstad Conference 2016


The City of Malmö made a formal agreement with the City of Cape Town to support their process in becoming an ICORN shelter city. The agreement was signed in March 2015.

In April 2014 the project partners had their First Annual Meeting at HIAP Suomenlinna to plan the upcoming activities.

The Second Annual Meeting of the project was held on the occasion of the Safe Havens 2015 Conference, an open network conference for organisations and activists dedicated to the protection and promotion of human rights defenders, organised by the Culture Dpt of the City of Malmö on 10–11.12.2015.

In 2016 the network will host residencies, organise small and large-scale events involving the resident artists and the partners, as well as expand through the cooperation with organisations locally and internationally. Finally, a Closing Meeting will be organised in Malmö on 2.12., with the purpose to evaluate the project and discuss ideas for further collaboration and the sustainability of the network beyond the timeframe of the Nordic Fresh Air project.

More information:

Safe Havens 2015: The Malmö Meeting
Safe Havens 2016: The Malmö Meeting
Helsinki – The first Safe Haven City in Finland? Ateneum 2016


The project activities gained attention in the local and national media. The artists and musicians worked with local fellow professionals, participated in various local and international events, gained further recognition, and in certain cases received prestigious awards. The exchange of experience and knowledge strengthened the network’s operation and led to further partnerships on a local and international level. A concrete result out of the network’s efforts towards establishing a sustainable scheme for safe placement of artists and art professionals at risk is the Safe Haven Helsinki project which is co-organised by Perpetuum Mobile and HIAP and supported by the City of Helsinki in 2016. The project is curated by Perpetuum Mobile.