Erotica Before Internet: How Muscles Changed the World | 21st June | Cannes

International Festival of CreativityLION_400x429
21st – 27th June





McCann Helsinki and Tom of Finland Foundation

Touko Laaksonen turned Tom of Finland into a global phenomena way before the internet, and at the same time, changed the world and gave gay men a new confident identity.

How did he do it and what are the lessons for current world changers, nonconformists and cultural idea makers? 


TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled, 1984, Graphite on paper, © 1984 Tom of Finland Foundation

How can a drawing change the word and a spearhead a cultural revolution? And how do you start with niche and became an integral part of a wider popular discussion without selling out?

In their unique talk, Petteri Lillberg, CEO for McCann Helsinki and Durk Dehner, President and Cofounder of Tom of Finland Foundation share how Touko Laaksonen turned Tom of Finland into a global phenomena way before the internet, and at the same time, changed the world and gave gay men a new confident identity. How he did it and what are the lessons for current world changers, rebels, nonconformists and cultural idea makers are all discussed coupled with deeply personal insights.


Petteri Lillberg


Durk Dehner












The session includes rarely seen material throughout Tom´s career and without any doubt, is truly X-rated!

Sunday, 4:45-5:15p
Audi A Stage


Henzel Studio Collaborations/Heritage |11th June | PRIDE in DTLA

Henzel Austere INVITATION v3.indd

Austere, a unique retail space for Scandinavian design and cultural programming located in Downtown LA, presents the first West Coast exhibition of art rugs produced by Henzel Studio, the world’s leading brand in the field.

The exhibition will serve as the US debut of Henzel Studio’s collaboration with Tom of Finland Foundation in the creation of a collection of 13 art rugs and 3 art pillows inspired by the unique environment and interior elements that make TOM House.  Located in Echo Park, Los Angeles, it is home of Tom of Finland Foundation, guardians of the artist’s body of work and living archive for the erotic arts, and where Tom permanently lived for the last decade of his life.

A hand knotted rug, entirely woven by hand over the course of five months, depicts one of Tom of Finland’s most iconic works of a Leatherman wearing a cap. The drawing was made as a study for the visual identity of the gay leather bar TOM’s Saloon, the only place Tom lent his name to. Made with comparable intricacy as the original drawing, it is free form and in select areas enhanced with silk to add shine and replicate the effect of polished leather.

The artworks woven into the hand tufted rug designs consist of a series of preparatory drawings, many unseen or ever reproduced. They feature portraits, scenes depicting camaraderie, homoerotic gaze, flirtation and sexual acts. One drawing outlines a man engaged in a boot fetish scene, another a nipple flirtation, whereas a third a f**k scene, bringing new meaning to love making on a rug.


TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Untitled (Preparatory drawing), 1978, Graphite on paper © 1978 Tom of Finland Foundation

The art pillows, featuring unique collages, are based on the numerous collage works that can be found at TOM House; covering entire pieces of furniture, in nooks on walls and ceilings, and even on the rear end of their vintage car. The featured collages are composed of proof prints from vintage Tom of Finland books published by the Foundation in the ’80s, pages from original Physique Pictorial magazines from the ’60s-’70s and other printed material accumulated over the past thirty years. The dense works illustrate the vast styles and techniques of the artists, and offer a visually stunning and unfiltered insight into Tom of Finland’s work.

On view till 14th August


“Slash” | 18th June | Riga







The first Queer themed art project in Latvia


TOM OF FINLAND (Touko Laaksonen, Finnish, 1920 – 1991), Nordic God, 1969, Graphite on paper, 11.50” x 8.00”, Tom of Finland Foundation Permanent Collection, © 1969 Tom of Finland Foundation

Represented artists: Tom of Finland (1944-1990, FI/USA), Aleesa Cohena(Canada), Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst (USA), Lucas Foletto Celinski (BR/DE), Atis Jākobsons (LV), Matthew Lutz Kinoy (USA), Inga Meldere (LV/FI), Vladislavs Nastavševs (LV), Benny Nemerofsky Ramsay(Canada), Armīns Ozoliņš (LV), Edgars Ozoliņš (1930-1987, LV), Karol Radziszewski (PL), Wolfgang Tillmans (DE), Vilnis Vējš  (LV).

Thinking about the problematic contrast of social acceptance and gay rights or their absence in the present Latvia, this project follows an idea about the universalising view on sexual identity and desire questioning previously dominant model of binary oppositions (male/female, homosexual/heterosexual) and the open-source mentality of the later concepts of queer sexuality, “third sex”, etc.

Avoiding any presumptions that certain individuals are truly born gay and only those born with the “deviant” traits share an interest in them, this project stresses that homosexuality is important to persons with a wide range of sexualities, as there is no such a thing as a stable erotic identity, and everyone is to some degree queer in their inherent qualities of mind and character, even if not in their physical behavior.

The iconic figure of Tom of Finland serves as a platform to question the stereotypes of sexuality, gender and idealized body. To name few other participants: exhibition would also include collaborative work of American artist couple Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst. Last summer (2014), they hit a high point in their careers by being included in the Whitney Biennial.

Exhibition will bring in a juxtaposition between Tom of Finland’s works and Latvian artist Edgars Ozoliņš, whose photorealistic and overtly sexualized illustrations of teen novels from the 1960s – 1980s encouraged the soviet-time public discourse on sexuality. By illustrating a scandalous (and exceedingly homophobic) book on sex and marriage, the artist succeeded to, for the first time in soviet history, create a set of drawings depicting a vast variety of sexual postures.

With various invited speakers (among them German photographer Wolfgang Tillmans, Latvian and foreign poets, theoreticians, historians) the synchronous talks will question the concepts behind the exhibition ideas through talks, presentations, and more.

kim? together with Berlin based Latvian curator Kaspars Vanags (curator of the Latvia’s National pavilion at Venice Art Biennale 2015) and with support by Gary Everett (founder and current artistic director at Homotopia Liverpool and an official representative of Tom of Finland Foundation in Europe) is organizing the first art exhibition in Latvia dedicated to queer issues featuring new and recent art works from international and local contemporary artists as well as museum worthy display of Tom of Finland and Edgars Ozoliņš.

Exhibition shall open during EuroPride and run through 2nd August.

Latvia is the first country in the territory of former Soviet Union to host EuroPride. kim? Contemporary Art Centre’s mission is to support the development of emerging artists, theoreticians, curators, philosophers, translators and thinkers of other spheres aiming to provide a responsive context to their work and to make critical practices accessible to a wider audience.