Outi Pieski (b. 1973) lives and works in Ohcejohka (Utsjoki) and Numminen, Finland, and has been exhibiting internationally for over two decades. Her works address the Sámi people’s history, indigenous rights, and their relationship with nature and mobility, sustainability and co-existences. She collaborates with environmental activists, as well as Sámi women employing traditional handicraft techniques. Her photography and paintings depict elements from landscapes and include forms, colours, references, or objects from the Sámi culture, including shawls and ládjogahpir hats. These extend to her large-scale installations, in which she invites viewers to enter, participate and come together.
Birit Haarla and Katja Haarla (b. 2000) are Sámi dancers from Utsjoki. They graduated as professional dancers from the Ballet School of the Finnish National Opera and Ballet in 2019 and are currently studying contemporary dance and choreography at the P.A.R.T.S – Performing Arts Research and Training Studios in Brussels. Birit and Katja Haarla have performed in and choreographed Marja Helander’s award-winning short film Eatnanvuloš lottit (Birds in the Earth, 2018) and Autonomiija áiggis (The Age of Autonomy), a theatre piece by Pauliina Feodoroff, Maryan Abdulkarim and S. Nousiainen staged as part of the Baltic Circle threatre festival in 2017.
“It’s an underground cave party! Young people dance to escape the angst of world destruction, summoning the aid of the forgotten Sámi earth deities Uksáhkkán, Juksáhkkán and Sáráhkkán. We are losing our spiritual connection with the earth and our ancestors who rest beneath the soil. It is time for us to reconnect with the sacredness deep within the earth,” says Outi Pieski. In her work for Helsinki Biennial, Cave (2020), women of different generations listen to the voices of their foremothers through dance and duodji, traditional Sámi handicrafts. The mother-daughter relationship between Outi Pieski and Birit & Katja Haarla chimes aptly with the theme of their first joint artistic collaboration.
The work is supported by The Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation.