Photographs and concepts: Henrik Malmström
Graphic design: Ricardo Baéz
Texts: Paavo Järvensivu, L.E.G. and Tero Toivanen
Translations: Eeva Talvikallio
Language: Finnish, English
Retouching: Bob Lightowler
Publisher: Pseudo Editions
Released: September 2022
Printing: Printon AS, Tallinna
Dimensions: 30 x 2 x 22 cm (P x K x L)
Location: Photographic Gallery Hippolyte (Yrjönkatu 8-10, 00120 Helsinki)
Before the arrival of Christianity, Finland still possessed a vast mythological tradition, its own way of explaining the world, how the world was created and how it functions, a communal identity, dating back thousands of years.
In 2012 Henrik Malmström arrived in the region of Kainuu —the cradle of the Finnish national epic— with the intention of illustrating this mythology with images. Once on spot, he was disappointed: “This region is now among the poorest in the country. The ancient culture no longer exists.” He stayed, however, near the Paljakka Strict Nature Reserve, to photograph the old-growth forest growing there. During this time, Malmström’s attention was drawn to minor news items published in the local newspaper, about “things that happen in the region, around this forest. Tragicomic and violent events, that were in a way very characteristic of Finland and of small Finnish localities.”
In their strikingness and crudeness, Malmström’s photographs of the forest resemble the short news items: “For me, the violence and the forest are in resonance.” Unknowingly, Malmström assembles a modern and peculiar account of today’s Finland —a Finland that will also be lost in the course of time— in an era when we must learn to not believe everything we see.