Digital video. 16 minutes. Original language Karelian and Finnish, English subtitles. Stereo sound. Color and black & white.
In the summer of 1890 two Finnish gentries, the visual artist Akseli Gallen-Kallela and the piano teacher Mary Gallen-Kallela, headed for their honeymoon in Viena Karelia. The journey carried out by the Gallen-Kallelas' is one of the numerous colonial research and collecting expeditions made by Finnish artists and scientists – the Karelianists – for the purpose of constructing the Finnish nationalist cultural heritage from the appropriated material of Karelian culture.
The journey started from the village of Rimpi, which is one of the three Viena Karelian villages on the side of the Finnish state border. During the visit, Gallen-Kallela proposed to the founder of the village, Rimmin Ul´l´aška, to live model in the role of Väinämöinen for Gallen-Kallela’s upcoming painting, second version of the Aino-triptych (1891). Aino-triptych is based on the Finnish national epic, Kalevala, by Elias Lönnrot and probably the most known artistic visual symbol in the Finnish nationalist discourse.
In the summer of 2022 I, Ul´l´aškan Vasilin Outin Annin Pentin Timon Mikki, spent four weeks in Ala-Rimpi's house as part of cultural reconnection process, deepening my knowledge of the genealogies of my Viena family, and diffracting different archival materials.
Voices – Timo Pajunen-Noroila (Folklorist), Mikki Noroila (Narrator)
Writer and director – Mikki Noroila
Camera – Mikki Noroila
Editor – Mikki Noroila
Sound designer – Mikki Noroila
Sound recording – Mikki Noroila
Additional sound recording – Olli Valkola
Sound editing and mastering – Mikki Noroila & Olli Valkola
Color grading – Mikki Noroila
Karelian translation – Moisejeffin Reeta
English translation – Annika Pellonpää
Archive materials – Uljaskan pirtti – photograph exhibition of Rimpi’s histories (2022), family archives, Häiden vietto Karjalan runomailla -film (1921), sound excerpts from interview made by Pertti Virtaranta (1966).
Thanks to, Šuuri passipo – Keijo Ahtonen, Pirjo Kyllönen, Jari Pajunen, Marianne Hotari-Pajunen, Timo Melentjeff, Moisejeffin Reeta, Art́on Kričja, Farida Albrecht, studio visit discussions w/ Salla Tykkä, Jaana Kokko, Diego Bruno, Azar Saiyar, Ewa Górzna; fellow students sharing courses and seminars in the Uniarts Helsinki's Academy of Fine Arts, Rimmin väet, ancestors, family, friends.
Site-specfic perfromance at Baltic Circle International Theatre Festival 2022, Helsinki
(performer & sound design)
UNDERTONE – Traces of Imminence focuses on the phenomenon of surveillance culture and totalitarianism sustained by man-made infrastructure. It reflects on how we manage our fellow species using technology. Combining experimental theatre, dance and installation, the performance takes the audience on an exploration into an imaginary reality that layers the temporalities of the past, present and future.
In the mystical reality of the performance, bodily spaces open up from personal views towards global dimensions. The performance opens up societal power structures and issues of oppression, making visible the structures that offer space and care for others, but at the same time put entire groups of people in a vulnerable position.
UNDERTONE Creative Associates
Untitled 3 (On assimilation and difference)
BFA degree work at the Uniarts Helsinki’s Academy of Fine Arts‘ BFA Exhibition 2022.
6min, HD-video, stereo
Untitled (On assimilation and difference) is an episode from a video work-in-progress, in which I examine the historical and contemporary effect of the discourse of Karelianist-Orientalism on the Viena Karelian village of Rimpi from the perspective of the body and family histories. Rimpi is one of the three Viena Karelian villages located within the borders of the Finnish state.
The founder of the village, Rimmin Ul’l’aška, who was my great-great-great-great-great grandfather, was the live model for the role of Väinämöinen in the second version of Akseli Gallen-Kallela’s Aino-triptych (1891). The painting is probably the best-known visual reference point of Karelianist art. In this bachelor’s degree show (organised at the very same bourgeois art institute in which Gallen-Kallela studied in the 1880s), I will contextualise my work as a counterwork for the Aino-triptych.
The purpose of Gallen-Kallela’s nationalist and colonialist national treasure was to provide an illustration of the “original Finnish mythology”, appropriated and assembled from the elements of Karelian culture, and to homogenize signs and meanings to serve a single national narrative. Therefore, with this moving image work I aim to push the viewing event's time and the meanings of the images into an into an ever-forming stream.
In the work I focus on the descendants of Ul’l’aška's Vasili's Outi's, and my grandfather’s photo archive.
Untitled 2 (Borderlands’ counter-archive)
Sound absorbing panel, artist’s frame, acrylic gesso, oil pastel, water-mixable oil paint on canvas, ceramics, drought clay, candle, cut string, brush, photographs, video, sound
My great-great-great-great-grand father Rimmin Ul’l’aška (1829-1918) – who was a Karelian crofter, peasant, tailor, nomadic merchant (laukkukauppias), and folk healer (tietäjä) living in a Viena Karelian village Rimpi – live modelled as Väinämöinen on Akseli Gallen-Kallela's second edition of the famous Aino-triptych (1891). In that context, Väinämöinen is the main character of the Finnish national epic Kalevala (Elias Lönnrot, 1st ed. 1835), which was constructed and edited from oral folk poetry, collected originally, and mostly from Karelian speaking Karelian people. Hence, both of the works can be understood through the interpretation matrix of cultural appropriation.
Historically, both the Aino-triptych and the Kalevala have been significant building blocks of the ‘mythical history’ of the Finnish nation-state, and the Finnish ethnic and racial whiteness. The artworks are the most important events in the ideological, cultural and political discourse of Karelianism. Karelianism has justified the cultural colonization and assimilation of Karelian people, culture and language by the Finnish elite, as well as the ‘tribal wars’ of Viena and Olonets Karelia at the turn of the 1920s, and the occupations of the East Karelia in 1941-1944. The absence of institutional language law still reproduces assimilative conditions for Karelian-speaking Karelians in the contemporary Finnish society.
In this artwork, I present photographs, objects and documents from my family's archives. The materials of the family archive mainly consist of traces of the diaspora of my Viena Karelian family, who settled in the southern Finland city, Hyvinkää, as refugees in the 1920s. As part of the archive, I combine pieces from my personal artistic history, mainly from the artworks done during my three-year bachelor's degree, in the exact-same bourgeois art institution in which Gallen-Kallela studied in the 1880s. By presenting these distantly related materials in relation to each other, and to Aino-triptych, I wish new and surprising, meaning-escaping streams to emerge from this composition.
Influenced by Gloria Anzaldúa’s thinking, I place the materials of the archive on the borderlands of the soil layers. As in the case of my relatives, information about this artwork can’t be found in the official documents of the exhibition, or in the writings of mainstream histories. This archive is evidence of the lives of the people of geographical, institutional and mental borderlands.
Pravoukko Mikko’s name on the list: he changed his name from Timofejeff (Timoni) into Pajunen. Historically, Karelian names have had three different forms: Timofejeff/jev is the russian form, Timonen is the finnish form, and Timoni the karelian form. Our family name from Mikko’s side was originally Oittini. Timoni was a patronym, and derived from the name of our ancestor Timofei.
sound absorbing acoustic panel, wood, acrylic gesso, oil pastel, a cap
When I moved into my current apartment, the previous tenant had made an acoustic panel in the living room, the purpose of which is to dampen the room echo. The previous resident sold it to me for 100 euros. It is 238.5 centimeters wide and 123 centimeters high, framed with brown wooden frames and still covered with dark gray fabric. I never really got into how it should be approached from a spatial point of view, when it was so big and the colors were quite dense: in addition to sound it absorbed all the light, energy and, above all, attention. And whenever someone visited for the first time, the first question was: "What is that?" Well, when this corona crisis started, I decided that I wasn't going to do something for the panel. I thought I would make an abstract painting of it. I was in such a hurry, I started painting directly on top of the gray. Of course, nothing came of it, because the gray color absorbed all the color from the paints. I then started covering it with gesso and did at least six layers, after which it started to look like it could be painted. However, I started to wonder if you shouldn't approach the work in a different way. My painting experience is really limited and that picture surface was VERY big compared to it. I tried to think about it from a material point of view: what does it really mean when a white plastic mass is spread over the sound-absorbing material, which practically blocks that material? It will reflect sound and not absorb it! After that, I started thinking about my own artistic history and how it could be used as material for that work. I have done interactive sound performances and installations in the past and I liked the contradiction that works of that type have in relation to painting: an interactive sound work usually sets the expectation that it and with it sound will be produced. On the other hand, a painting does not do that in principle, it is silent. I called it "An Interactive (Sound) Installation." (Sound) in parentheses because it can also be just an ordinary interactive installation. It's in quotation marks because it's not really an interactive (sound) installation. It's a painting. Or a sculpture. Or a performance?