Field_Notes -The Heavens 2019


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hosted by Marja Helander

The Strange Weather group is hosted by Marja Helander, an artist of Sámi origin, the people whose land - Sápmi - we are guests on during our field laboratory in Kilpisjärvi. The group will take anthropogenic aerial events and global transformations like acid rain, the Chernobyl disaster, pollution from Kola Peninsula´s nickel refining plants, micro plastics in air, or climate change on Sápmi territory as a starting point to expand on issues of de-colonisation, social and environmental justice and the anthropocene. It will look for marks of impact on the land and people and trace possible related alterations of indigenous livelihood. For example the changes in the winds will change the behavior of the reindeer. The group also offers the possibility to challenge western notions of the sky through situated indigenous knowledges.

Marja Helander is a Sámi photographer, video artist and film-maker with roots both in Helsinki and Utsjoki. In her earlier work, she has studied various themes including her own identity between the Finnish and the Sámi culture. Helander´s recent photographic work has focused on northern landscape in which dark views are portrayed without people. The accent of the work is on the postcolonial topics in the Sámi area, focusing particularly on the global mining industry. The encounter between nature and mankind is not harmonious, but destructive. On the other hand her video works are playful, exploring the contradiction between the traditional Sámi way of life and the modern society. Her recent short film Birds in the Earth was part of Sundance Film Festival Short Film Competition 2019. Since 1992, Helander’s work has been exhibited in two dozen solo exhibitions and over 50 group exhibitions in Finland and abroad. In her art, Marja Helander often builds from her own background between two cultures, the Finnish and the Sámi culture. What drives Marja as an artist is curiosity and the willingness to always learn something new.