ποταμοῖσι τοῖσιν αὐτοῖσιν ἐμϐαίνουσιν, ἕτερα καὶ ἕτερα ὕδατα ἐπιρρεῖ.
Potamoisi toisin autoisin embainousin, hetera kai hetera hudata epirrei
I started my master’s studies at Aalto University ViCCA programme in 2014. During the very first fall we had a course in Reposaari where we were given assignments daily. One assignment was to modify a work done by another student. I got a video work to remix from my friend Saara Kanerva Tamminen. I added some footage of lake views from Kuusamo that I had shot earlier that year and a Heraclitus’ fragment DK B91 on the video. This is the famous fragment that talks how it is impossible to step in the same river twice and how all the waters just flow. Maybe one of the most clearest aspects of this ambiguous fragment is that nothing stays the same and as time goes by the river you step in again has changed and so have you. Panta rhei kai ouden menei. Everything flows, and nothing stays. These are also the words of old Heraclitus – today they might have lost some value as the words have been printed on countless yoga shirts and inspirational posters. Even merchants have realized that accelerating change will produce more coins to their wallets. What would have old Heraclitus thought of this.
When I heard that the Pori Biennale is looking for works done in Reposaari, I sent the 2014 course work in. I thought that the video fitted the theme of the Biennale of opening the archives and revisiting the island – to step again in the same river. I was supposed to do a new work in the greenhouse of the old environmental research center. I had already started to grow new plants for the greenhouse and also started to build sound equipment for an installation. Then the corona situation changed everything and I ended up doing a whole other type of work.
In the biennial you can now see an extended version of the 2014 video. It is a 2-channel video installation and you are responsible for installing and choosing the place to screen it (please see instructions on the text accompanying the work). The work consists of video footage that is connected to water. I have shot the material during the past three years. These are places that I have visited before and places that I visit for the first time. I am inviting you to visit these places through this installation. As the videos loop endlessly you will be visiting these places again and again. The work also changes as the images are not synched and as we visit a place again another place or image might be on the other screen. In the audio we hear sounds from the places on the video and sounds of me attempting to record ultrasonic sounds of plants. We might be listening to mimosa pudica and geranium producing sounds, or, we can just be listening to amplified and lowered sounds of high frequency background noise.
The images in this work don’t necessarily say anything as themselves, but their meaning is explained in the accompanying text. This resembles also the way I was first looking at the meaningless familiar and unfamiliar landscapes, until I learned about the past, the present and the possible futures of these places.
The work has been partially produced in Kone Foundations home residency.
Lauri Linna (b. 1981) is a Helsinki based artist. He works with plants, gardening, moving image, sound and electronics. Since 2014 he has been studying carrot – human relationship in his project PORK KANA CAR ROT. Other fields of interest are plant behavior and intelligence and plant-machine relationship. Linna is a Master of Arts from Aalto University’s Visual Culture and Contemporary Art (ViCCA) program.
This is a two-channel video work. You are responsible for choosing its installation and the screening environment. For the best screening experience you will need 3 devices e.g. a TV, a tablet, laptop or a smart phone. Start the videos on two different devices. Take care that videos loop. The idea is to let the videos run at the same time. Now you can think about the installation: do you want them side by side or maybe opposite of each other, or, you can try out different ways of placing the videos in space. Please note that both videos have audio. You can use either the speakers of the device or use external speakers or headphones. You will also need this text for experiencing the work. In the video titled “Kuusamo” roman numbers are given and corresponding numbers can be found on this document accompanied with text relating to the video footage playing. There is also text related to the other video titled “Etelä” (trans. South) at the end of this document.
In case you have only one device available make sure you are able to see and hear both videos and this text at the same time.
I. Alavuotunkijärvi / Lake Alavuotunkijärvi
Lake Ala-vuotunkijärvi at 2.00 am in Kuusamo, Finland. I have visited here regurarly since the early 1980's. On the video you can see a stone age dwelling site and historical era temporary burial site Ruumissaari (trans. Corpse island). The island was used to keep the dead bodies during winter when it was not possible to transport them to the church graveyard to be buried. In spring boats took the bodies to church graveyard. On the island there is still an empty hole in the ground that is the size and shape of a grave. The grave shaped dug up hole is in the direction of north-south resembling a Sami tradition of burial. Next to the the stone age dwelling site and opposite of the Ruumissaari a rather famous millionaire has built a summer cottage. The waters of Lake Ala-vuotunkijärvi run to River Kuusinkijoki. The river ends at Lake Paanajärvi in Russia. From Paanajärvi the waters will eventually flow to the White Sea.
II. Talliskotalammen pyyntikuopat / The Trapping pits at Talliskotalampi
I haven’t been here before. But very likely some of my genes have - snippets of DNA strands and the matrilineal Mitochondria – invisible strings tie me here.
The Finnish word “poro” means a wild reindeer that has been domesticated. The poro were used to lure the wild reindeer to the trapping pits which would then be chased into the pits and killed. And so the people of the siida got food, pelts, bones and thread from all the veins and tendons. Close to the trapping pits is the winter campsite of the Kitka Siida. The Kitka Sámi weren’t reindeer herders even though they kept few poros for transportation and to lure the wild reindeer.
The winter camp site of Talliskotalampi is next to the lake Kitkajärvi. Some people call the Lake Kitkajärvi as the biggest fountain in Finland. River Kitkajoki runs from the lake Kitkajärvi. The river Kitkajoki joins the River Oulankajoki just before the Russian border which in turn joins Lake Paanajärvi in Russia. The waters from Lake Paanajärvi drain to the White Sea.
Talliskotalampi = Talvi kota lampi = Winter Kota Pond (kota = a sami hut) = The place of Kemi Sámi Kitka Siida winter camp. Siida = a Sámi tribe and its lands (a bad translation). Kitka siida = people and the lands who lived in northern Kuusamo, Finland around the Lake Kitkajärvi. Winter camp = The Kemi Sámi travelled to summer camps and winter camps according to seasons.
Kemi Sámi are now extinct or they have assimilated to the Finnish or other Sámi groups - the debate about whether it was a total extinction or assimilation continues. Because the issue of offspring of Kemi Sámi is relatively inflamed I feel I need to make a political statement: I am not Sámi, but some of my ancestors are. I am not about to seek the right to vote at the Sámi Parliament of Finland, because like I said, I am not Sámi. Even though, and I repeat myself, some of my ancestors are. I am also the offspring of all the invaders who burnt down the forests, the Karelian tax men, the priests who burnt all the drums and overfishing people who want to own land and have animals that shit in their homes.
III. Kesäleiri Ala-Kitka / Summer camp at Ala-Kitka
In summer the people of Kitka Siida would travel to their summer villages. Similarly I travel to Kuusamo every summer. This location on the video is one possible place of a summer campsite. Summers were spent with your own family in the summer camp. In winter all the people of the Siida would gather at the Talliskotalampi winter camp.
At the tip of a peninsula mothers and children are sitting on the ground. In a distance someone sings a fragment of a song that I don’t know. Here the ancestors who came from elsewhere burned down the forests, establishing fields for crops and overfished the lakes of the ancestors who had been here before. Transitioning to agriculture – becoming a Finn (by force). “We were happy because we got food.” Domesticated reindeers – poros, lots of poros, herds of domesticated reindeers, eating so much lichen that there isn’t much of it left. A kota as a leisure place. Expensive new houses. The road next to the field is pushing into a pile of rocks that resembles a burial mound. Rowan and Labrador tea. A stone with gold and glitter. A large rock in the shape of a head. Here, an ancestral mother put a baby to sleep while singing a song that is now forgotten. Small fish jumping on the lake shore. Light surf on the pebbles. In here the invading ancestors burnt down the hunting forests of the ancestors who had been here before. Transforming forests into fields and overfishing the waters.
Here the Lake Kitkajärvi flows into River Kitkajoki. The river then runs through the village of Käylä down to the Oulanka national park. Eventually the waters will end up in the White Sea.
IV. Juomasuo Gold Pond
This is my first visit here. It smells like sulphur. A strange, tropical turquoise water that is not typical here up north. This is a site to seek cobalt, uranium and gold. Parts of this place have radiation levels as high as Chernobyl. During winters thousands of international tourists ski just only a few kilometers away from here. Cobalt is needed in electric car batteries and uranium is needed in “0-emission” nuclear power plants. This place is in the center of the fight against climate change – or this is at least what the mining company wants to market. If they are not allowed to dig for treasures here, they need to do it in Africa using childlabor. People from elsewhere want to dig up the treasures from the ground dirt cheap and leave behind piles of radiating poisonous waste rock.
Sulphur, greed and water runoff. Force binds to and condenses. Fragmenting. Breaking. Run-off water. Radioactive piles and dust. Water testing downstream – how and where groundwater flows. Reindeer drink the water, fish, aquatic plants and church grass. Drills drill deeper and lift radioactive dust into the air.
We are couple of kilometers from the River Kitkajoki. Two km’s from village of Käylä. If a mine is established here, its overflowing radioactive wastewater will flow directly into the river Kitkajoki. The Kitkajoki runs down to the village of Juuma, where the locals already measure the radioactive concentrations of the groundwater because they use it as their drinking water.
V. Kitkajoki, Jyrävä, Oulanka
We are now at the bottom of a canyon at Oulanka national park. This is Jyrävä in the river Kitkajoki. Many endangered species of plants live on the canyon walls. On the way here the walls ooze water from springs and fountains. Jyrävä is one of the biggest waterfalls in Finland. The water falls down about 9 meters. The waterfall pushes the waters of river Kitkajoki from a shallow and narrow split in the rock with such force that the rumbling of the water can be heard from afar. I have been coming here always, this place has been drawn to my consciousness from such a young age that I don’t know when was the first time I came here. We have numerous photos of how we sit in this same place. We ate our snacks and watched as the water flowed from Jyrävä. And how those waters calmed down into the backwaters under the rapids. We sat and just watched. Grandma, who was born from Juuma up the river, could tell some stories of her life: higher up the river, her grandfather built a water mill in the rapids, or how they used to collect hay in the floodplain meadows and slept in the wilderness for days. Or how the bombers flew over, dropping bombs into the wilderness and how Grandma at the age of ten walked hundreds of kilometers with the village cows when they had to evacuate. Ancestors have traveled along this river for centuries if not thousands.
As a teenager, I met a man here who had abandoned his family and career in Espoo and decided to start living in a tent under this rapid. Winter was coming, apparently the cold was scaring him and he was looking for a winter home. He thought it was the best place in the world. The only place where he felt at peace. He was a water engineer, and he tried to explain to me what are the laws of physics that make a blade of grass in running water vibrate. I didn’t understand, but in my mind, lines were drawn in the flowing water that swirled around the water plant stems, a bit like the weather front lines on the weather maps. Invisible forces that only show as the vibrating stem.
I have sat here with my father, mother, grandfather, grandmother, aunt, her husband, uncle and his wife, cousins, sister, sister’s children, ex-partner and current partner. My co-workers have also been here. Every time we sit quietly and stare at that force of rushing water. How that forceful water pressure shakes the earth and the people in it. Here it’s possible to experience sound in your body and not just in your ears.
If you look from the right angle and use your imagination the rushing water looks a bit like Santa Claus.
At some point, someone says something quietly. Conversation starts. More snacks. There is talk how you could even drink from that river water.
The radioactive runoff from the Juomasuo mine will surge from this waterfall in the future. Then you will no longer sit here quietly listening to the roar of the water while eating your sandwich. Then the air will be full of water vapor raised by the rapids into the air, with uranium, cobalt, gold, and other stuff torn from the earth's crust. From here, those polluted waters flow down to Russia and eventually to the White Sea.
An age-old relationship to this place. Blood is thicker. The waters they run.
ETELÄ / SOUTH
I live here in the south. I can’t call this place home even though I have my home here. I felt something small to an outsider here, as a child I spoke the Northern dialect and that way I was suspicious to the others. But I couldn’t live in the north either, there I am always the southern visitor. The environment looks and sounds different here than in Kuusamo.
The purpose of the Reposaari greenhouse was to protect and support plants that would not otherwise thrive there. In the south there are several protected sites in fragments here and there. Places that would otherwise have collapsed and covered with undergrowth, such as the old trapping pits in Kuusamo. Here they are maintained and protected. Patches of “wild nature” or tired and weary mansions. And a lot of areas that are subject to continuous human development, where nothing settles but is in a constant artificial state of change and re-creation. A restless compulsive change, a change because of change, not necessarily because it would become anything better or more nice. Change due to change.
The Vanhankaupunginlahti nature reserve, where deer are fed and where I saw pike spawn for the first time. It is an amazing place in the middle of the city. Gray herons and sea eagles fly. In the background, the noisy city traffic. In the middle of a magnificent old spruce forest, you may think you are somewhere else, as the sounds of the city do not carry there. Deer are unlikely to survive without feeding. Are they no longer wild animals or have they become some kind of poro-like (reindeer-like) semi-domesticated animals that are maintained so that the townspeople can experience “authentic nature experiences” in the midst of our green and magnificent green capital? But it is truly thrilling to encounter these animals on an evening walk. Or are they here with their shit to fertilize our urban forest garden? Are pike also animals in this zoo? A small area in a big city.
A southern Finnish mansion and next to it river rapids that seem to flow freely. However, its water is carefully directed into three streams, one of which has an old decaying water mill. In its landscape one can clearly see different eras: an ancient rock which surface has been worn and shaped by running water before man divided the stream into three, stacked rocks in a stream directing the flow, bricks dripping from collapsing structures. The flowing water rinses. The wild park of the old manor, which mixes formal garden traditions - well-defined plant beds and common sense - and romantic English garden influences - back to nature, planted with trees imitating the natural forest, authentic nature, as long as the willow curves in just the right way to touch the surface of the water with its delicate branches – and gradually growing wild undergrowth, which, however, is curbed by lawn mowers. Historical time and geological time. Thicket, semi-thicket and a golf course. Maybe even prehistory if one should look carefully. Numerous ruins. At the mansion on weekends: weddings or other family celebrations of paying guests. In the yard, a piece of plasticized glitter paper from previous party spins with the wind. This is my second visit here. Flowing water has never smelled of mold before - here it smells.