TALES FROM THE DEEP EAST, PART ONE:
LOVE AND ROOTS
25 December 2019–29 March 2020
SAVONLINNA REGIONAL MUSEUM
Once I graduated from secondary school in 2009, I left my childhood home of Savonlinna with no intention of ever looking back. I lived in the vicinity of Tampere, toured the Balkans, and finally settled in Helsinki to study. Life in the capital has treated me well, but I still remain haunted by the vague sense of being an outsider, by the rootlessness that big-city life exemplifies.
In the end, after ten years of roaming the world and as the big 3-0 drew close, I began to seriously consider returning to Eastern Finland. I could hardly call myself a real Savonian if I didn’t recant my youthful defiance and head back home. First, however, I wanted to find out what life in Savonlinna was like at its best and its worst. Who are the people my age that live or like it here? Why are they still here and what are they doing? What is their Savonlinna experience?
My exhibition is not some swan song for a dying town, but a paean to these young adults, their strong local bonds and their willingness to put in the work to keep South Savo alive. They have bravely volunteered to share their own personal stories and pose for portraits. In addition to being photographed, each person contributed a brief text about themselves and their relationship with Savonlinna. The pictures were taken using medium-format roll film and a ‘70s Mamiya RB67 camera, as I felt its clumsiness, awkward slowness of use and limited number of shots created an intimate atmosphere. I hope the mood of the situation and the personality of the subjects comes across.
The exhibition’s longish name informs the reader of more installments to come, as well as my personal thoughts and desires. I feel that this is what I want to do and that it is worth doing: telling stories. It is also an allusion to art made by others, specifically the North Karelian country band Huojuva lato, who have a song about moving back to the countryside:
What makes you go back home? Love and roots.
That’s what it is, for each and everyone: love and roots.
Veera Konsti (b. 1990) is a Savonlinna-born art and freelance photographer, currently finishing her studies at the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. Konsti’s work has been on display in Savonlinna before, including the “Vanitas 3000” exhibition, ruminating on themes of death through photos of taxidermized animals.
Konsti’s work often touches on the upside-down nature of life, humour, areas of discomfort, and various marginal spaces. As a photographer, she is experimental, moving between genres with ease, and eager to carry out even the most outré of her ideas. Besides photography, Konsti works in fields such as sculpture and costuming. “Tales from the Deep East, Part 1: Love and Roots” is the opening chapter of the East Trilogy, which will be examining the stories of people in the region from a variety of perspectives, across multiple years.
The exhibition on display at the Savonlinna Regional Museum is part of Konsti’s master’s degree thesis project, and has received financial support from the Riitta Kivimurto fund of the South Savo Regional Fund.