Journey to Sompio and Lokka with Lauri Linna and Pia Lindman

Pia Lindman

After almost a month in Kuusamo with Tinna Greatarsdottir, Sigurjón Hafsteinsson, Rosanne van Klaveren, and Lauri Linna, I returned to my home in Inkoo via Savukoski, Tanhua, Sodankylä and eventually Rovaniemi, from where I started my long journey back to the Southern part of Finland. I went to Savukoski to meet Anu Tossavainen, who was willing to meet with me and drive with me to Tanhua to Pessijoentie, to look for the site of eight unearthed graves. Archeologists think two of the graves belonged to noidas – one of them converted to Christianity, one not. (I will post my notes from visiting these graves soon.)  But I was looking for traces of the story of seven noidas who – the legend tells us – committed suicide once the new preacher told them that anyone holding on to sami beliefs and cosmology will burn in hell. I did not find them in Tanhua, I found something in Sodankylä, by the river bank of the old church (built in 1689), but the more I looked, the less I believed the story.

Pia embarking to record Lokka. Photo: Lauri Linna

A week later I visited Hanna Laura Kaljo in Tallinn, to visit the site for the exhibition space and discuss what I plan to do for the exhibition (Let the Field of Your Attention … ) As I was telling her about my travels, and about how the artificial lake Lokka had covered many of the ancient sami sites that were of interest to many in the Chill Survive Network, Hanna pointed out that actually that very body of water which was interfering with my inquiry, was of pointed interest. And especially since I had planned to add underwater sound to my installation in the exhibition! Up until then, I had not been able to come to grips with what kind of sound and body of water I was looking for – is it not funny how sometimes things stare you right in the face – and you only need a push to see them?

A week later, I was back on the train with Lauri Linna, heading to Sodankylä and from there, further North, to lake Sompio that runs into Lokka and where the hills Nattaset – and especially Pyhä Nattanen (Sacred Nattanen) – are a strong presence in the Northern horizon.

Lauri Linna wanted to visit these specific sites, since they were the land and places of the legendary powerful noida Akmeeli who lived in the 1600s and by account managed to fight off the Christians in battle.  Lauri, I am sure, will tell more about his explorations in regards to Akmeeli himself.

Posted a video below that gives some sense of the work we were doing with Lauri:

Lokka kuullostelu video

I write now for a moment about Sunday the 25th of August, when I recorded the lake Lokka.
We overnighted with Lauri again on the camp site of Nellimela, in Sodankylä. This time we stayed in number 6, a cabin with a slanted floor.
Early next morning we were on our way, this time to a village called Lokka, located on the Southern tip of lake Lokka. This is the site of the dam and hydro power plant.

The dam and power plant are surprisingly small – merely ten meters wide.

All those lands, villages, sacred places disappeared – for this?

The day before, we had been driving almost 400km from Sodankylä North to the ends of Mutenia and Silmävaara roads and back to Sodankylä. The shortest route to the village Lokka in the South – around the entire lake – goes through Sodankylä.

September, fresh air like clear glass and temperatures dropping at nights. Wind. Remind me of how sad I was to leave Kuusamo.

I started logging the material from Lokka after returning from Berlin. A few days earlier, on Sunday or Saturday … Maybe Sunday night? I had been listening to the sound recordings. I had a feeling that strengthened in my dream. I dreamed all night that I am still missing one tape. The one, where I am with Akmeeli, or where something becomes manifest of him. In the morning, in my still sleeping mind, I searched again for the missing recording. Suddenly I realised that it had been in front of me all along. It was the GoPro tape, where I walk the Akmeeli hills all the way to the stream Hietaoja, across of which lies Akmeeli’s grave. Akmeeli is on the tape! Akmeeli has entered the GoPro camera. I walked with Akmeeli! I watched the tape over and over again. I looked for an atmosphere or something (a mark, a click, or – like at the dam in the village of Lokka, where the river Luiro runs out having been reduced by the dam to a tenth of its former depth – a small bank of sand and bushes in the river looking like a screaming head).

I feel a strong atmosphere on the tape in the moment when I arrive at the open field by the stream and pan across the dancing grass, the stream, Sompio lake, and the site of Akmeeli’s grave across. Thinking back, I remember I had walked with peculiar intensity past the Akmeeli hills, the ancient winter camp site of his tribe, to reach the stream. As if I had known where I was going. When I reached the stream, I noticed the big tree stumps. Trees had been cut down some decades ago, and remaining stumps were sticking out of the swampy soil. These trees would never grow this big in such wet land. Some of the stumps stuck out from the middle of the stream. 

A forest used to grow here, with big trees (pine?). Now it was a marshland. Of course, when you build a dam, it does not necessarily mean that water simply rises, but rather that the land turns wet and eventually a marshy vegetation forms a blanket covering the former forest.

Strange landscape, strange wind, strange water. Spirits with their memories seem to have fled to the higher hills (Nattaset) this marshy blanket cannot reach. The confounded land that remains, the remainders of the Akmeeli hills and the forest, now search for new roots, forms of being. 
This, I filmed here. And returned following my own foot marks, resounding my steps as pointy swooshes and swishes. I watch my shadow, formed by the landscape and plants. Gathering into itself this place and surrenders to it – again and again. Thank you for walking with me.

Pyhä Nattanen at night, seen from Silmävaara road from the East
Sodankylä old church

Pia Lindman thanks Swedish Cultural Council and Akusmata, Helsinki, Finland, for material support making this work possible.

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