Augustis Tallinnas esitlusel olnud Lapimaa kunstnikeühingu näitustetervik “Ma elan polaarjoonel” avati septembris kolmes Riia galeriis – Agija Suna galeriis, Slazds galeriis ja Läti Kunstnike Liidu galeriis. Avamised toimusid 12. ja 13. septembril ning avamistel said sõna galleristid Agija Suna, Katrina Toivane ja Igors Dibicins, kuraator Reet Varblane, Soome suursaadik Pirkko Hämäläinen ja suursaatkonna kultuurinõunik Petra Sarias, Läti Ülikooli professor Leons Taivans, Lapimaa kunstnikeühingu projektijuht Merja Brinón, kunstnikud Ninni Korkalo ja Anu Riestola (kõnet on võimalik lugeda inglise keeles allpool), Rovanieme linna kultuuriala juhataja Marja Videnius ning Soome Instituudi juhataja Riitta Heinämaa.
Näitused said teoks Lapimaa kunstnikeühingu, Soome Instituudi ja Soome suursaatkonna koostöös. Näitustetervikus on väljas 19 Lapi kunstnikeühingu kunstniku tööd. Näitusteterviku kuraatoriks on Reet Varblane.
Anu Riestola: Speech from exhibition opening in Agija Suna Gallery, Riga, Latvia
It is always windy on the high hills, but from there on you can see far away
What is art from Lapland? What is it like to be a Lappish artist?
Worst scenario, which could come to mind, is a fake sami man (who is originally from southern Finland), who is drunk, selling pancakes and bad paintings of reindeers and high hills in a souvenir-café somewhere in Lapland. I am happy to announce that there is more and better going on in the art world of Lapland. In this group of exhibitions there are 20 professional artists from different sites of Lapland and they all show their best with their paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, conceptual art etc. I am very happy as well that I was the one who was chosen to this group, too.
In Finland, if you are an artist you are living in a marginal. If you are living in Lapland, you are also in the marginal. If you are a Lappish artist you are in marginal double. Furthermore if you are a woman you are in marginal again. (I have to say I am reasonably okay eventhough I am a female artist from the region of Lapland.)
They say that artist are human beings or persons as well. What about Lappish persons?
In what way does Lappish artist person differ from the one from south? It would be easy to answer: nowadays not in a single way. We are all the same, staring at the television or computer. When I sit with my laptop on the top of the hill or in the forest I can contact anyone via Skype or Facebook just the same way that in Helsinki. Technology brings the world to me, which is similar everywhere. Global culture seems to modify local culture; it’s all the same, we all eat pesto and mozzarella-cheese-balls from Utsjoki to Tel Aviv, we all watch same tv-series, we all listen to the same pop music and wonder what Lady Gaga is going to wear next… We are all civilized western euro-people from the Arctic ocean to the Mediterranean sea. Only the language changes on the way. Isn’t it true? Is that so?
Oh yes, indeed. And the cows will fly (or should I say reindeers).
They say that people are everywhere the same, only the environment is different.
Environment influences us quite a lot, even though we wouldn’t like to admit it to ourselves. We live in the modern era with the help of refridgerators and electricity. Still it’s not the same to be born to the middle of the dark, extremely cold winter as on the warm shores of Mediterranean sea near the wineyards and fruit trees. It’s different to eat raw salted fish or dried reindeer-meat or fridged icy cloudberries than eat fresh fruits and vegetables all year round. It’s different to grow up under a snowy birch than under an apple tree. The history of Lappish people is the history of surviving – only the toughest survived. You had to cope with extremely cold, long winter. Nothing else grew at the high hills than reindeers and some stubborn people.
When it was cold outside, one looked for shelter inside the hut, from the fire and from other people. There were not necessarily many people around; distances were long. That’s why other people were valuable. After the dinner was eaten, people fed each other with stories, especially ghost stories at night. Nowadays your broadband makes noise and you can order a Louise Vuitton -bag from the Internet if you are wealthy enough, but still there is more superstition and mystics in Lapland than in the other parts of the Finland.
Before Lapland used to be a poor area; it was said that you didn’t herit anything else but a bag full of stories. The narrative tradition of Lapland is juicy, bloody and and rough. In my opinion this reflects the fine arts in Lapland, too.
Also the extreme light conditions affect us: we, Lappish artists are part of Lappish light and environment. I haven’t met a Lappish person, who wouldn’t be affected by the blue light of kaamos (dark winter time) or the white everlasting night of midsummer. Long kaamos – the opposite of nightless, manic, hysterical night: these things definitely leave some kind of a mark to a person. We are born again every spring – every spring you have the same joy that you survived dark winter again. (Nowadays it is more mentally surviving, though.)
I hope you will enjoy our original art in these exhibitions here in Riga. It is wonderful that we were invited here and I want to thank deeply the curator Reet Varblane, Merja Brinon, all the partners who co-operated with the Artist Association of Lapland and especially the Finnish Culture Insititute and Finnish Embassy here in Riga.