Art Exhibitions

The Siida Museum


{mosimage}The Triangle of Life

Theoretically, at least, Sami artist Tuula-Maija Magga-Hetta’s exhibition is thought-provoking. Almost all of the exhibits in the Sami Museum’s gallery are based around the triangle: the shape of the traditional Sami tent, a shape associated with unrequited love, but also the strongest of shapes. But this is, perhaps, as far as the originality goes.

Despite all the arty verbosity in the press release (“The triangle of life is reflected on our moments in the form of a triangle of destiny. We meet our triangle in the fells…”), there is very little that is original or distinctive in this exhibition. In essence, it is typical Sami handicraft: twigs, Sami colours, reindeer-related stuff, colourful textiles, carefully displayed and occasionally given interesting titles.

The triangle dimension is a nice touch but it hardly compensates for the fact that there are scores of places in Lapland –both in Finland and Norway– where you can see handicraft just like this, indeed possibly more original than this. If you merely want to look at Sami handicraft, it may well be worth waiting until July when Inari will be populated with tents from which Sami will sell their various creations… and it will be free to look around those.

At a time when Lapland has become extremely touristy –and saturated with Sami handicraft– a Sami artist needs to approach the tradition in a strikingly original and fresh way. Although the triangle metaphor is interesting, I don’t think Magga-Hetta’s exhibition is fresh and striking enough.

Until the 6th May 2007


{mosimage}“Rewind!” Arctic Russia in Archival Films

Some exhibitions are so breathtakingly bizarre that they are worth seeing simply for that reason. ‘Rewind!’ definitely falls into that category. The exhibition’s blurb seems pretty boring: it is archive footage of life in Soviet Arctic Russia. But when you actually get to the exhibition you can do things like watch Russian TV from decades ago in a typical forty-year-old Russian front-room and change the channel by moving around on the sofa.

You can be filmed against an age-old Arctic Russian backdrop of reindeer herders as if you are there with them and, most peculiarly of all, you have the chance to mix different examples of Russian archive footage with various examples of old Russian music to create the appropriate mood for the film. But the exhibition also reflects a more serious purpose. Much of the archive footage involved, which is at any rate very rare, has been painstakingly restored and rescued from unsuitable and damaging conditions.

So the whole project aims to ‘protect the cultural heritage’ of northern Finland and Russia. But an exhibition of Soviet archive footage, no matter how rare and significant, could sound mind-numbingly dull to many people. However, this really is entertaining, original and… well… just plain bizarre. Whatever the exhibition is, it is great fun and worth having a look at.

Until the 20th May 2007


Both exhibitions are at the Siida Museum, Inari, Lapland.

The Siida Museum also houses permanent exhibitions about Sami life, nature in Lapland, the Northern Lights and an open air museum recreating traditional Sami houses and traps. All of them are highly recommended.

Prices: Adults (€8), Children (€4), Students/Pensioners (€6.50)

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