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FINLAND: IN THE ANCIENT FORESTS

 

FINLAND: IN THE ANCIENT FORESTS

In the summer of 2015, I went on a week-long hiking expedition in the forests of the Kainuu region of central Finland to see the heart of the country and capture it in photographs. Although my time was short, my experience with the people and wilderness of Finland showed me what a truly respectful relationship with our natural environment can look like.  This series of transparency film compositions was created from the film I shot in that region, with the profound sense of connection I felt with the natural world at that time.

 VIEREMÄNJÄRVI, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

VIEREMÄNJÄRVI, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 
 ÖLLÖRI, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

ÖLLÖRI, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 
 The red spot on the small map above is the area of central Finland I hiked through. It was about 1km from the border with Russia, and at one point near to HÄMEAHO I was close enough to to “surprisingly” run into a border patrolman. Based on what he told me about their patrols, I was observed and he was sent to make sure I didn’t accidentally cross into the yellow zone, a .5km wide stretch of land that runs along the border with Russia. He said in addition to the potential of being apprehended by Russian border guards and held in Russia if I crossed all the way through, if was lucky to be detained by Finnish border security, I would be detained in their offices and it would be a €1000 fine.

The red spot on the small map above is the area of central Finland I hiked through. It was about 1km from the border with Russia, and at one point near to HÄMEAHO I was close enough to to “surprisingly” run into a border patrolman. Based on what he told me about their patrols, I was observed and he was sent to make sure I didn’t accidentally cross into the yellow zone, a .5km wide stretch of land that runs along the border with Russia. He said in addition to the potential of being apprehended by Russian border guards and held in Russia if I crossed all the way through, if was lucky to be detained by Finnish border security, I would be detained in their offices and it would be a €1000 fine.

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 HÄMEAHO, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

HÄMEAHO, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 

The Finnish people have a deep, innate respect for their natural environment, but I didn’t discover this from slogans on stickers or advertisements proclaiming their sustainability. The Finnish people are far too busy actually doing things to take time to brag about things they consider simply good stewardship. I witnessed their respect by watching the people interact with their environment.

 KUKKAROSUO, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

KUKKAROSUO, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 

I stayed overnight in farms and houses and ate meals with people who lived in complete harmony with the land, and made a living from the resources. Indeed, Finland’s rich tradition of design (Helsinki is one of the design capitals of the world), particularly in the use of wood, owes a great deal to their respectful relationship to the forests and care of the resource. 

 LIPPOSENNIEMI, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

LIPPOSENNIEMI, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 

 Finland is one of the few countries in the world that recognizes “Everyman’s Right”, also called “Right to Roam”, which is the basic human right to be able to walk across (and camp) in any wilderness area, boat in any natural waters, and forage for berries and wild mushrooms for personal consumption on any land. This is because land enclosed for private use and feudalism and serfdom were never established in Finland. Private property (and the privacy it entails) does exist in Finland and the right to roam does not mean hikers can march through your domestic yard or set up camp next to your house, it simply means if you own property beyond your dwellings, people should be able to pass through, eat or sleep on, without hassle.  

 SYVÄLAMPI, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

SYVÄLAMPI, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 
 JATKONVAARA, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

JATKONVAARA, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 

 The time I spent in the forests of Finland gave me a spiritual reconnection to the living, breathing world. The forests are green gateways to continuous visual wonder and mental introspection. Forests are alive and ancient. The trees are mystics that seem to tolerate my presence, likely regarding me the same way I would regard an insect, knowing that their time on earth and memory spans farther than I could in three lifetimes.   

 ALA-ÖLKKY, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

ALA-ÖLKKY, FINLAND - 30”x36” (76cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 
 VÄRIKALLIO, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE  (EDITION OF 5)

VÄRIKALLIO, FINLAND - 36”x36” (91cmx91cm) • TRANSPARENCY FILM PRINT, ARCHIVAL PIGMENT ON FUJI LUSTRE (EDITION OF 5)

 

I’m actively seeking exhibition opportunities for this series. If you are interested in facilitating an exhibition, or purchasing prints for personal or corporate collections, please contact me here!