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Apila Pepita

Where are you from?

I’m from Helsinki, Finland. I was born in Siilinjärvi which is a small town in Eastern Finland.


What is important to you?

I think it is important to question social constructs and old traditions. I am always critical towards things that happen in my immediate experience and if something feels wrong I’ll speak out about it. It is important to educate others. Not to judge but to encourage others how to correct mistakes and live a better life for themselves other humans, animals and nature.


Where do you source your inspiration?

I am always seeking inspiration and everything I learn and see becomes a source of inspiration for me. I’ve learned that everything I experience has an impact on my art. Taking walks outdoors, reading books and listening to my friend’s stories are the biggest sources of inspiration for me. 


Can you describe your first experience with feminism, or perhaps when you first identified as a feminist?

I started identifying as a feminist only in recent years. I started to realise after listening to my friend’s stories how much needs to improve until we can achieve gender equality. I see animal rights as a feminist issue as well. We need to appreciate all living creatures on this planet and not abuse them, destroy them and steal from them. Animals suffer from man's craving to control and assert their power to creatures they see as less important than them.


Sleepover Club is about collective action and art making, but also about joining the broader conversation on feminism, how does your work translate the female experience?

I identify as Agender, but people still often perceive me as a women. My view is that of a person who still suffers from the patriarchy of society and who is made to feel like less than others just because of the way I was born. Animal rights are also very important to me and my love for all living things can be seen in my work. 


Can you speak about the themes and issues you explore in your work?

A lot of my works show characters of all kinds of gender identities and sexualities. I want to bring trans people into my stories as normal people and remove the "freak" factor from trans individuals. Many of my works also raise the issue of animal rights. We humans have lived with other animals throughout history, using them for our own attainment and disrespecting them. Animals are very complex creatures and I want to educate people so that they can understand the beauty of nature and why it is so important to protect it.


You’re from Finland, how are female/LGBTQIA artists viewed differently to male artists?

The belief that art by CIS male artists is somehow superior to female or LGBTQIA artists is still very strong in Finland. Female artists are seen first as women and mothers rather than creative individuals. There are not many LGBTQIA artists, but more and more are coming into the public eye which is very important! There are a lot of female artists who see feminism as an important topic and explore it in their works. 


What do you think needs to change in the art world before women are on par with men?

Women need to be seen as creative people capable of having a career in art rather than baby machines who are expected to stay at home taking care of the children and the house. In Finnish media, creative females are often just labeled as "artist moms" and criticised for choosing a career as an artist over being a “good mother”. Society needs to understand that a woman can be a great artist and also a great mother. Also that women do not need to be wives or Moms. Art by women also needs to be taken more seriously.


Can you share with us your favourite female artists/activists/role models?

Katja Tukiainen, Iiu Susiraja, Tiitu Takalo, Mai Kivelä, Emma Kari, Emmi Nieminen and Maaria Laurinen.