My name is Isla. I'm collaborating in this project with Sade and Viivi as a photographer and a co-explorer. The forest theme is very close to my heart and to everything I've done in the past few years. I graduated as a photographer in 2008 and since then have been exploring various topics involving the human-nature relationship, hidden and invisible realities, and my own roots. When Sade asked me to take part in their upcoming project, I agreed immediately. We started our collaboration in May by spending three nights in Pyhä-Häkki National Park. These photos were taken there.
My way of working has always been slow, intuitive, empowered by the forces of nature and the connectedness to everything around. I like the slower, more surprising, more intuitive feeling of film cameras. Shooting on film makes me stay in the present, in the feeling which is the most important to me in photography: the total loss of space and time, the amazement of looking at the world through the lens as if looking into another reality. I feel that my task as an artist is to make that reality visible for others, whether it's through words or images. The same kind of a loss of space and time perception happens when I'm out in the wilderness. It's a very focused state and yet you completely lose yourself to the environment – as if literally becoming one with it.
This connectedness is what I've been searching for through artistic work as well as in my personal life. Often these two merge together. I've hiked through old-growth forests and bogs for days, getting up at 3am in order to greet the dancing fog and the rising sun. I'm constantly searching for places where no signs of human civilization can be seen or heard. (These places are, by the way, extremely scarce.)
I've always had the ability and the need to connect with the natural world. Without that connection, I would not thrive. This issue troubled me, it inspired me, it pushed me to look for some answers. After many years' search through different spiritual and esoteric traditions as well as ecopsychology and environmental science, I became increasingly interested in my own roots and the old nordic nature-related mythologies. It started to make more and more sense to learn about the human-nature relationship as it has been here, in this particular environment where my ancestors lived. Getting to know that relationship, bit by bit, has given me so much understanding of myself and of the whole world I could never explain it in words. I'm now studying in a three-year course to become a teacher of Finno-Ugric nature wisdom and the ancient shamanistic worldview.
One of the most important insights during this search has been when I realized what a functional belief system our ancestors had. Suddenly, it no longer appeared to me as a somewhat random collection of funny details, strange habits, and names of some gods as we were taught at school, but a profound, holistic world view that has once served a clear purpose – the survival of the tribe and maintaining balance between people and their environment. Our present culture is lacking this kind of a comprehensive knowledge and value system, which is probably one of the reasons why we're so out of balance (as a society and as individuals). I think we could learn something important from the past by gathering bits and pieces and putting them together here in this time.
This is also the purpose I wish my artwork will serve. I wish that people who see my photos will not only see a pretty picture but also receive a feeling, a thought, perhaps a shiver or a whisper from the other-than-human world. We as humans are not separated from nature. We all originate from the same source, we co-depend, our destinies are all linked together. This is one of the ”invisible realities” I'm exploring in order to give it a visual form.
It all begins in the forest.
So that's where I'm going, too.