Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo
Most often if we want to go somewhere – somewhere we feel we belong – we go to the woods. Without the woods, we would get lost.
In the 1990s we worked as a team, making a long journey into old Finnish tradition and mythology, which linked the human fate to trees and the surrounding woods, into a time when the woods had no boundaries and were everywhere.
In this project, we have studied our contemporary relationship with forests and the wooded landscape. The process has been like chasing the rainbow’s end. The woods escaped us, constantly looming on the horizon. And gradually – after running breathless – we began to see the big picture; how meticulously the 50 years of efficient forest economy has crushed, torn, pulled, grooved, wounded, cut and chaffed almost every single square kilometre in our wilderness. It has also sown, planted and thinned, but a plantation of trees can no longer be called a forest.
The Finnish word for “forest” once referred to a boundary, an edge, an end, beyond which there was another, vast realm. How many trees does it take in our language and landscape to form a forest?
We have begun to measure woods in minutes – how long it takes to walk through the forest from one clearing to another or to a sapling stand. There are three-minute forests and five-minute forests, and very few 30-minute forests.
We have begun to rename places: Dead Standing Trees Clearing has been turned into Sapling Clearing, Pine Hill into Plough Hill, Bad Fish Sandbank looks like Broken Land Sandbank, Night Pool Marsh like Deep Drain Thicket.
And we have tried to see which new terms enwrap this landscape; silviculture, light tilling, scalping, protection zone, natural restocking...
Silvicultural operatioins - is a visual research on the change in northern woodland scene and forest identity in a form of a book (texts only in Finish) an exhibitioin and a film (End of the Rainbow).
Intensive forestry has changed both the landscape and the relationship to the nature. Nearly all untouched forests or those beyond sampling stand have disappeared. The amount of the destruction is hard to understand, even to admit, because the woodland is such an important part of the image, skill and reputation, something that must not be violated.
The aim of our project is to try to treat this serious but hushed matter; the overall condition and state of the woodlands and the feelings of the people living in their radically changed home areas.
and a video
"End of the rainbow"