In Finland when a lot of people start complaining they might be called a ‘valituskuoro’, or a Complaints Choir. Two Finnish artists have made a reality of that metaphor, not just once but again and again around the world.
In 2005, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen suggested creating a choir to sing about people’s complaints to various cultural institutions. Curiously, it was in Birmingham that the idea took off. Grumpy bus drivers, dog mess and people hogging the biscuits are among the British complaints shared by the choir in this video.
Since then, there have been Complaints Choirs in cities across the world, each with their distinctive preoccupations as well as the common irritations of urban life: you can read about them here and see them perform here. The most recent project, supported by the Swiss Artas Foundation, involved refugees and displaced people in Georgia.
As the 2015 British General Election gathers momentum, the volume of complaints increases daily on every media outlet. Complaints Choirs show that hectoring is not the only way to be heard. Some artistic flair, a little creativity and a good tune – you can say what’s on your mind and have people want to listen.
Democracy could use a bit of laughter too, these days.