Marja Helander

Marja Helander
The feeling you get when you’re alone at night on a highway, the band of asphalt stretching ahead forever, a thousand million miles, a petrol station, a sad and non-descript landscape, abandoned yards and villages. That is Darkness.
In the Sami mythology, the world will end in a natural catastrophe, after which there will remain nothing. For example, a violent frost can descend at any time and freeze everything. Life will simply cease to exist when all time comes to a close. This old myth remains topical even today. In an age of climate change and unchecked population growth, it does seem that we are indeed exhausting our planet. On the other hand, nature is tenacious and seems always capable of rising from the ruins of human greed.

Although the photographs in Marja Helander’s exhibition are taken all over the world, Darkness is based on the Sami conception of nature, which has always regarded nature as animistic. Nature is sacred and valuable, even mystical, and even inorganic nature is considered alive. As a concept, ‘the sacred’ in particular is situated in the high mountains, deep lakes, or prominent stones or trees in the landscape.

In her pictures, Helander reinterprets the old idea of ‘the sacred’. Not only mountains, but even an empty petrol station glowing alone in the night can be seen as a mysterious, ritual site, and quite literally a source of energy. Under the surface, the works also embody the potential of death and destruction caused by man. The dark palette and the emptiness in the pictures emphasise the sense of non-places, of landscapes ”after Man”.
An essential element of the exhibition is the sound piece by Tapani Rinne. The sources of sound in the piece are acoustic instruments, a clarinet and a saxophone. Manipulated by Pauli Saastamoinen, the sounds create a sonic sculpture which in dialogue with the pictures evokes a dark, nocturnal and meditative moment.