Finland – The Happiness Project
Each year the United Nations publishes the World Happiness Report – a survey of the happiness of people in different countries. In 2021, the World Happiness Report ranked Finland as the most content nation globally for the fourth year running. The report ranks each country based on six key factors that have the most influence: income, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and corruption levels. At this critical time, with issues of global health and environmental impact at the forefront, MAP6’s Finland: The Happiness Project explores themes around the UN’s World Happiness Report and looks at why Finland scores so highly in the UN’s Happiness Index. With this in mind, the MAP6 Collective visited the country in 2019 and 2020 to document different aspects of the country. What they discovered was that Finland has a strong sense of societal well-being, and a belief in diversity, inclusion and belonging. Finland positively promotes healthier, happier and more fulfilling lives – be this through the architecture, nature mirrored in design, the sustainable timber industry, the essential sauna culture, the healthy act of walking and being in nature and the link between landscape and national identity. There seem to be a lot of healthy factors that compensate for the very long winters, as evidenced in Finland’s design and architecture which reflect an intimate connection to nature: the antidote to the cold, dark months seems to be the healthy culture of sauna and engagement with nature. They discovered a high level of trust within Finnish society, a belief in a close-knit community with excellent infrastructure built on a bedrock of inter-generational trust. Finland believes in itself: that a society can provide a fairer, safer, and happier place to live; a society with hope. The story of Finland – which they explore in their group project – shows that through belief, we can as a society, live healthier, happier and more positive lives.
The MAP6 photography collective is a group of 10 photographers working together to make work about the complex relationship between people and place. Annually, the group travels to an agreed destination and over the course of a week forms a collective, photographic impression of that place through its landscape and people. Each project eventually takes the form of a curated exhibition, a series of talks and a group publication. Each photographer’s approach is informed by a need to document, to try to understand the complicated nuances that give a specific place its own unique characteristics, and to show how these characteristics reflect and inform what is happening in the wider world. The primary focus, during each project phase, is the collaborative process that is at the heart of the group. This takes many forms, from the process of picture-making to editing, to exhibiting the work and producing a publication. For the past 10 years, MAP6 has experimented with, and deepened their understanding of what artistic collaboration looks like for them as individuals and the group as a whole. They have exhibited the outcomes of these collaborative ventures throughout the UK and abroad since 2012. They have brought out several publications, including The Isolation Project, capturing their experience in Lapland at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, and Finland: The Happiness Project, which explores themes around the World Happiness Report.