FLATLAND – from the fields of Härmä
Ella Kiviniemi & Elias Lahtinen
Photography Center Nykyaika, Tampere
Mon – Fri 12–18 and Sat – Sun 12–16.
(Limited to 5 visitors due to the current Covid-19 restrictions)
Härmä is a small rural place where everything needs to be big and grand. Its open flatlands are vast and legends of “häjy’s”–groups of men making trouble in the area by stealing, knife fighting and homicides in the 19th century, live strong. It has even been said that the South Ostrobothnian Härmä is the Texas of Finland. “But there is much more in Härmä,” as the ethnographer Samuli Paulaharju states in the preface to his book Härmän aukeilta (“From the fields of Härmä”) published in 1932.
The documentary project, Flatland – from the fields of Härmä, by Ella Kiviniemi and Elias Lahtinen, consists of photographs taken in Yli- and Alahärmä between 2018–2020, and objects found in the area. Through the project the photographers embark on a journey towards their own family roots in Härmä and discover the people, traditions and wonders of this small rural place during their explorations. The photographs record their impressions of life on the flatlands, but Härmä defies all definitions.
The history of ethnography, especially the work of Samuli Paulaharju (1875–1944) and his book Härmän aukeilta (From the fields of Härmä), has inspired the photographers during the process. When Kiviniemi and Lahtinen asked the locals ‘what is Härmä?’ they often referred to Paulaharju’s work.
The photographs and objects selected for the exhibition are mirroring the photographer’s, the subject’s and the viewer’s thoughts and expectations of Härmä. The work reflects identity, legends and the movement of stories over time. Have the people created the stories of themselves? Or have the stories created them?
Ella Kiviniemi (b. 1991) and Elias Lahtinen (b. 1990) have both studied photojournalism at the University of Tampere and at the Danish School of Media and Journalism in Aarhus, Denmark.
Kiviniemi is currently finalizing her studies at Aalto University’s master’s program in photography in Helsinki and works as a freelance photographer, photojournalist. She was awarded with the Press Photo of the Year award in 2017. The exhibition is a part of Kiviniemi’s artistic thesis at Aalto University.
Elias Lahtinen is a Tampere-based photographer and photojournalism teacher in Tampere University from which he has graduated with a master’s degree in social sciences. He also works as a freelance photojournalist and with his long-term documentary photography projects. Lahtinen was awarded the Portrait of the Year award in 2016.
The work and the exhibition have been supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation of South Ostrobothnia, Finnish Cultural Foundation, and Aalto University.