• Milking jacket II
  • Handwriting
  • In the barn
  • Milking jacket I
  • Habit
  • Morning mist
  • Happy nameday
  • Breechers II
  • Handkerchief I
  • Juniper i–II
  • He had a wooden leg
  • Gesture
  • Breechers I
  • Wood portrait
  • Wood portrait
  • Wood portrait
  • Hay poles
  • Shared view

Vastapuu

Vastapuu consists of studio photographs taken of everyday objects from my father in-law’s farmhouse and surroundings, alongside landscape photographs and excerpts from a family album. My aim is to delineate a portrait of Heikki and Sylvi, Karelian evacuees who were founders of a farm called Vastapuu. The work reflects upon the personal nature of memory and the relationship with the farm’s history.

My father-in-law kept the farm after his foster parents died. Sylvi’s milking jacket still hangs on a rusty nail in the barn, and the logs that Heikki chopped in the 70s just before his death are still in the shed. The remnant items, the farm’s buildings, and the trees that Heikki planted in the yard all carry memories and remind us of a sense of transience. After my father-in-law died, I carefully dug Heikki’s logs out of the shed which were not allowed to be tampered with when my father-in-law was alive. They were like relics that spoke with their silence. I made portraits of them. The logs were the starting point of my work.

Together with other items found on the farm, the logs, Sylvi’s milking jacket, and black-and-white photographs are the raw materials for my works. By cropping, enlarging, and rearranging I projects my own experiences of the estate and its remnants into the works. The process creates a dialogue, in which I produce past from the present. The items shape the memory of the work. The monochromatic photo series of Heikki’s logs or scanned images of Sylvi’s sewn handkerchiefs emphasise the significance of everyday objects and their bearing witness of deeds. However, the estate and its everyday objects are more than historical pieces of evidence of what once was – they enable a connection with the past.

Through the microhistory of the farm built by Karelian evacuees the work attaches into the Finnish national memory and raises questions about home, homeland and integration. After the Winter War and the Continuation War over 400 000 Karelian evacuees were relocated to start their lives from the beginning.

Through the renovation of the Vastapuu farm and its feral landscape the project also asks questions about the state of rural life today and plays with an idea of the rural revival.

The project was funded by Kone Foundation.