Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen

Helsinki based artists Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen initiated the Complaints Choir project, which invites people to sing about their complaints together. The first Complaints Choir was organized in Birmingham (UK) in 2005. After the event became a surprise success, Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen have been invited to initiate complaints choirs all around the globe. Soon thereafter they initiated the Complaints Choir of Helsinki, the Complaints Choir of St. Petersburg and the Complaints Choir of Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.

A video installation comprised of documentation of the four choirs’ public performances was shown at Kiasma (Helsinki, Finland), S.M.A.K. (Ghent, Belgium) and Museum Fridericianium Kassel (Germany) among other venues. When the video clips of the choirs were distributed through online magazines and video sharing websites, the idea spread quickly to many other countries. To date additional Complaints Choirs have been organized in Bodø (Norway), Poikkilaakso primary school (Helsinki, Finland), Budapest (Hungary), Juneau (Alaska), Gabriola Island (Canada), Melbourne (Australia), Jerusalem (Israel), Breslau (Poland), Chicago, and Philadelphia.

Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen were unable to fulfill the organizational demands due to the popularity of complaints choirs worldwide. Thus they launched a website to encourage people to form their own complaints choir, and at the same time several have been initiated by other people around the world. The Poikkilaakso Complaints Choir formed at a school near Helsinki by Matti Salo and Elisa Hilli; the Bodø Complaints Choir was organized by Kari Koksvik and Mikael Rönnberg and the Pittsburgh Complaints Choir was initiated by Jenn and Ray Strobel. More complaints choirs are currently being initiated around the world.

- Yi Cui

Interview with Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta-Kalleinen in Chicago, Illinois

Part 1: How people work together in the Complaints Choirs
Part 2: The resonance of complaints
Part 3: Building community through choirs
Part 4: Choir participants and topics


Chicago Complaints Choir performance at Millennium Park

Part 1
Part 2


Visible City: Project + Archive is supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of CanadaCanada Research Chairs, York Research, Ontario Innovation Trust, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.