Artist Kaija Kiuru’s On Boundaries invites the audience to Viiankiaapa, of the Sodankylä municipality—an area adjacent to both sparse and rich fens, where the struggle between environmental conservation and prospective mining has come to a flashpoint. The exhibition is part of Kaija Kiuru’s and Timo Helle’s Protected Aapa Mire project, started in 2012.
Viiankiaapa, part of the National Mire Conservation Programme and the EU Natura 2000 network, is one of Europe’s largest and most diverse aapa mire. AA Sakatti Mining Oy, owned by the globally operated Anglo American, has been searching for ores in the protected territory since 2004. The nickel-copper deposit discovered in 2011 is considered significant, and the company aims to start mining operations in the region. The exhibit at Photographic Gallery Hippolyte raises questions about the status of environmental conservation under increasing land-use pressures.
The exhibition showcases photographs depicting borders and an installation in the middle of the gallery space. In Kiuru’s works, boundaries are concrete divisions between regions, but also symbolic attributes of how we value nature. The photos represent the borders and signs of Viiankiaapa nature reserve. On Boundaries installation informs us about the history of the region and the current situation via a table of maps (e.g. fen meadows and reserves), in which boundaries concurrently define the landscape and the mining company’s areas of speculative expansion, primary sites and planned sections of excavation. On Boundaries is also a somatic art and science action, which Kiuru has been conducting together with docent and nature writer Dr Timo Helle by walking the contours of Viiankiaapa nature reserve. Within a Finnish context, Viiankiaapa is close and local, but constantly around the world similar collisions ensue between extractive human activities and the natural environment.
Kaija Kiuru’s (b. 1959) artistic practise rests on a fascination with the Northern hemisphere and the natural environment. Originally from Sodankylä, the artist returned to her birthplace a few years ago. Kiuru studied sculpture and graduated in 1991 from the Lahti Art Institute. In addition to studio art, she earned her MA in art history and is educated in environmental protection and pedagogy. She has taken part in several solo and group exhibitions in Finland and abroad.
Kiuru’s first works to comment on the contradiction between environmental protection and speculative mining were developed in 2012. The Protected Aapa Mire project grew gradually from these individual works and consists of Kiuru’s five exhibitions and a multidisciplinary book about Viiankiaapa written together with Timo Helle—due to arrive in 2021. The exhibition displayed in Photographic Gallery Hippolyte is the fifth and the last presentation of the project. www.kaijakiuru.net
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Open: Tue-Fri 12-17, Sat-Sun 12-16
image: Kaija Kiuru, from series Merkitty maa, 2019