The Other Travel Agency is a Nordic art project that explores the margins, taking you to environments that otherwise would be unreachable. Artists with learning and intellectual disabilities act as travel guides and take you on a trip to inner worlds and their physical surroundings.

A starting point for the project was a simple question: “Why does no one speak about the silent places you can visit?” The question was brought up by an artist after observing their surroundings. The Other Travel Agency gives a voice to the artists willing to raise important questions and issues and show personal and meaningful areas of their home cities. A culture that involves everyone is rich and more fascinating. It is something that people want to experience from further away as well.

In 2019 The Other Travel Agency collaborators have organized a series of local art exhibitions and events in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, and Sweden. The two main art exhibitions, based on the local productions, took place in the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium (24–26 September 2019) and in the gallery of Pertti’s Choice in Helsinki, Finland (11 October – 11 December 2019). A Finnish city activist and producer Jaakko Blomberg has both acted as a mentor to the local productions, as well as a curator for the main exhibitions.

“This is more than an art project.
This could develop into a movement.”

Recent reports about megatrends in the travel business say that travellers are more and more interested in richer and deeper experiences. Travellers are seeking real experiences with personal meaning and purpose. Travellers want to feel the pulse of a place. You can travel in so many different ways.

The Other Travel Agency challenges audiences, politicians and officials to face questions such as ‘how visible people with disabilities are in our home city’ and ‘could their potential be used more’. It shows that artists with disabilities are able to fulfill a great number of roles in the field of art when they have support. The Other Travel Agency creates true cultural diversity. The aim in the long term is to develop accessibility and equality in art, culture and society.

The Organizers

The Other Travel Agency collaborates with NOA Nordic Outsider Art network, and it is supported by Nordic Culture Point and Nordic Culture Fund. It is coordinated by Kettuki (FI) in a co-operation with Kaarisilta (FI), Gaia Outsider Art Museum (DK), Inuti (SE), and Myndlistaskólinn í Reykjavík & List án landamæra (IS). You may read more about the collaborators below.

GAIA Museum Outsider Art (Denmark)

GAIA is a unique museum focusing on Outsider Art. The museum exhibits art created by people who live outside the realms of social normality and create their art outside the mainstream and established art world. GAIA is also a cultural enterprise and art school staffed by professionals and people with special needs.

As part of an educational program for people with learning disabilities from 18 to 25 years in Denmark, GAIA Museum has started a 3 year long education in visual arts. Through specially arranged programs managed by professional artists from different fields, the education is meant to give the students an opportunity to learn about various artistic disciplines and explore new ways of expressing themselves. Furthermore the education aims at helping the participants into further employment, either in the form of independent studios or collective art workshops for people with special needs.

For the development of GAIA Museum, international cooperation has always been of great importance. The museum is the secretariat of The European Outsider Art Association and involved in several European cooperation projects, among others the project “Count me in too” which is funded by EU Erasmus+ Program.

NOA’s long term impact on cultural field is important to GAIA Museum Outsider Art, because it collects exhibits and communicates art made by people on the fringe of normality. At GAIA Museum we endeavor to make the stories of the artist visible through their works of art and present them in a way where the unique qualities of this field are conveyed.

Inuti (Sweden)

Inuti Foundation was established in 1996, with the main objective to provide a creative and open-minded workplace for artistically talented adults with learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum disorder. Today, over 60 artists have their working space in one of the three Inuti Studios, Inuti Lilla Essingen, Inuti Södermalm and Inuti Västerbroplan.

Inuti Gallery opened in 2016. The gallery regularly exhibit works by national and international artists, within the Outsider Art field. International cooperation and exchange of ideas and practices is essential to Inuti. Inuti is a member of European Outsider Art Association, EOA and Nordic Outsider Art, NOA.

Inuti Collection, a unique selection of artworks, contains more than 400 artworks.

Two of the studios have Artists’ Cooperatives, to support participation in cultural life and strengthen/expand social networks.

In addition to the day to day work in the studios, Inuti frequently coordinates exhibitions, workshops and art projects in collaboration with artists, artisans, art institutions and museums. Inuti organizes a wide variety of art events, where community interaction is as important as integration in the Art World. Art is empowerment.

The Inuti studios operate as Daily Activity Centers, in accordance with the law LSS. LSS regulates the support and service offered to persons with certain disabilities.

Kaarisilta (Finland)

Kaarisilta Association is a national association founded in 1986. The association maintains the Art and Activity center for physically and/or mentally disabled people, which focuses on art, culture and sports. The center is located in Villähde, Lahti, Finland, approximately 10 km from Lahti City center. Since 2003 Kaarisilta offers vocational cultural education. Art Kaarisilta Gallery exists in Helsinki, the Capital city of Finland.

Kaarisilta maintains the Art and Activity center for young adults in need of special support. Its guiding purpose is based on strong ethical and aesthetic values, respect for life and each person’s individuality. Visual arts, crafts, music, drama, sports and holistic education are at the core of its activities. Teaching is mainly organized in small groups, always taking into account the preferences and eventual limitations of each individual involved in the activities. The teachers are professional artists. In 2003 vocational cultural education became as a part of the Kaarisilta activities. Our three years long study program has two main choices of emphasis: music and visual arts.

The Kaarisilta Association organizes seminars and cultural events: art exhibitions, concerts and dramatics. The art exhibitions and concerts have brought us to international fields of culture in Italy, Germany, Austria, Japan, Belgium and France. The Kaarisilta Association organizes 10-15 regional, national or international art exhibitions yearly and every second year The International Kaarisilta Biennale. The exhibitions gain about 12 000 to 18 000 visits yearly.

Art Kaarisilta started its activity in Helsinki in February 2009. The gallery also wants to create a dialogue between the people making art and the audience and start a conversation about the hierarchies of the art world. The gallery arranges exhibitions as well as meetings with the artists and occasions for conversation.

Kettuki (Finland)

Kettuki is Finland’s nationwide network for art makers with learning disabilities and people working with them. Kettuki acts in several ways to reach its goals for equal opportunities to make art. Kettuki can be seen as a culture political policy maker, network maintainer, actor in the field of art and as an international partner.

Kettuki was founded in May 2006 and it is managed by the Kettuki association. From 2008 to 2016 Kettuki has received a grant from Ministry of Education and Culture and since 2017 from Arts promotion centre Finland. Kettuki is a widely known and recognized organisation in the Outsider Art field.

Nationally Kettuki has created a network for Finnish organizations and individuals working in the field of art by disabled people. Kettuki is maintaining a national network, providing expertise and serving as an interest group as well as information on projects and activities in the field.

Myndlistaskólinn í Reykjavík & List án landamæra (Iceland)

Myndlistaskólinn í Reykjavík (The Reykjavík School of Visual Arts) is a non-profit organisation, operated by artists and designers. List án Landamæra (Art Without Borders) is an Icelandic art festival which places emphasis on the diversity of the human existence.

At the festival artists work together at creating a diverse range of art pieces with multiple outcomes. With the aim of creating a more diversely rich society and promoting understanding between groups of people, fostering creative initiatives and staying on top of current societal trends. The festival is not an institution but a grassroot movement and is held all across the country the whole year. The events are around 60 every year and the number of participants are around the six hundreds.