Like, the Value of Art

It was an idea that I had – collaborating with another subject. Mine is social studies, and in this case economics. The national curriculum calls for these kind of connections between different subjects. I have talked about it with my colleague at Åbo Akademi University Hannah Kaihovirta (artist and visual arts teacher) many times. What are the connections between economics and art? Hannah had a lot of ideas. I had a lot of ideas.

ga and hk

Guillaume Aubry and Hannah Kaihovirta talking about the artist-run initiative Platform in Vasa

Hannah knew that Platform had invited the artist and architect Guillaume Aubry to Vasa for a few weeks in august. She sent him a message through Facebook and asked him if he’d be interested in talking about his projects and maybe even participate in a workshop at Vasa övningsskolas gymnasium. The answer was yes. We met for dinner and discussed what we’d like to do. Working as an artist. The fees and price for art. Art as publicly funded projects. We found our common ground in the theme ”The Value of Art”. Value being an economical concept, but also something very private and even existential in the sense that we value something above another. And some put a price on their valuables and pay millions of euros to own a certain piece of art.

value of art 3

During the workshop students used the table in front of them as an exhibition space. They used the things they brought with them to class as art supplies.

Guillaume, having worked with students before, suggested that the students should collaborate and create art. They would then show their art pieces to each other and talk a bit about them. It was important that each piece had a name. The lesson was 75 minutes. Our introduction and Hannah’s and Guillaume’s talks were about 40 minutes. Then the students began creating.

value of art 5

The titles of the art projects that the students made.

After the lesson Hannah concluded that all the projects had really good names, and they were very abstract although many of them were about school related topics. It was amazing to see how well they worked with their groups and the discussions they had while working. Negotiation technique is an important trait to master. The workshop took 15 minutes and they had 1 minute per group to present. Creativity doesn’t always demand a lot of time.


One of the projects, an installation, called ihappyman.

We connected value to the digital currency of today namely ”likes”. Facebook introduced ”like” and now it is everywhere. Instagram is just one social media where people can use their right to vote for, well, what exactly? Liking something doesn’t demand anything from you, and you can unlike it later if you want to. The pictures that gain the most likes might not be artistically great pictures, but they seem to carry a value of their own.

like me

We didn’t use digital likes this time. And as you can see from the project title-photo most project received an acceptable amount of likes, although it was a little strange liking something face-to-face, without the protection of the screen according to the students.

From an economical point of view ”likes” online are big business. People are hired to like pages, companies etc. and making it hard to evaluate if the number of likes are true, or simply bought. On the other hand, Sara Maria Forsberg (you know, the YouTube-star?) landed herself a record deal in Los Angeles after her video received A LOT of attention. Now it has over 12 000 000 views and over 100 000 likes. The people have spoken, at least until the next big thing catches our eye.

Charlotta Hilli is a PhD student in Dididi and a history and social studies teacher



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