Savu E. Kor­te­nie­mi (b. 1986) is Lapland-ba­sed vi­sual ar­tist. Savu in their prac­tice uses sculp­tu­re, drawing and wri­ting. They holds a mas­ter degree of fine arts from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Arts Hel­sin­ki, Aca­de­my of Fine Arts.

Pro­noun: they / them


e-mail: savu[at]kor­te­nie­mi.eu

Twit­ter: _Kor­te­nie­mi

Face­book: SE­Kor­te­nie­mi

Ins­ta­gram: sau­kor­te


Brief texts in English

On my wor­king

The­re is brief texts in English on some of my pro­jects. Un­for­tu­na­te­ly, the­re is no pos­si­bi­li­ty to add lan­gua­ge ver­sions of the web­si­tes at this time.

My English is not so cor­rect but I hope you could catch the idea :)

Plea­se don't he­si­ta­te to take con­tact if you would like to know more on my wor­king.


The Last Ones

In the Bal­tic-Fin­nic, Po­lar Star -cent­ric myt­ho­lo­gical world­view the­re is the con­nec­tion between the Land of North and the Land of Death.

I'm in­te­res­ted in not only folklo­re but also in power re­la­tions be­hind the­se kind of sto­ries: who­se words we use for desc­ri­bing of our world?

In Bal­tic-Fin­nic myt­ho­lo­gy exists the Moun­tain of the North. From the top of the Moun­tain the­re is a rou­te to the Abo­ve World via the Po­lar Star, and via the roots of the Moun­tain the­re is rou­te to the Un­derworld. I see the con­nec­tion between that myt­ho­lo­gical moun­tain and the Mount Do­men which have had a role du­ring the witch-hunts of Finn­mark area in 17th Cen­tu­ry, when Chris­tian court be­lie­ved that the­re was a ga­teway to the Hell via Do­men. The be­lief beca­me true to the vic­tims of the re­li­gion-ba­sed vio­lence.

The Last Ones is the se­rie of the ex­hi­bi­tions and wri­tings. The pro­ject is in progress. The first se­rie "The First Pic­tu­res" has been ex­hi­bi­ted in gal­le­ry Merz Sam­mon­ka­tu, Tam­pe­re at 2018.  "Blue Mai­den & Maid Anni" has been ex­hi­bi­ted in Gal­le­ry Oks­a­sen­ka­tu 11, Hel­sin­ki, at Feb 2020. Next ex­hi­bi­tion "The At­las" will be ope­ned 14.3.2020 in Gal­le­ry Napa, Ro­va­nie­mi.

Blue Mai­den & Maid Anni.

Gal­le­ry Oks­a­sen­ka­tu 11, Hel­sin­ki at Feb 2020.

In Toi­vo Kuu­la's song a wan­de­rer meets a wood-elf cal­led Blue Mai­den and are not able to love a hu­man being any­mo­re; the wan­de­rer spends their li­fe­ti­me in lo­ne­li­ness, see­king the soul of their own. Ac­tual­ly, the­re is two ty­pes of wood-el­ves in Fin­nish folklo­re. The idea of the dan­ge­rous­ly enc­han­ting el­ves is ba­sed on the Cel­tic myths. Ad­di­tio­nal­ly, I have heard sto­ries of elf mai­dens who are de­lusi­ve by anot­her way: they look like hu­man being from ahead but their back is woo­den. The de­ficient ana­to­my re­fers to the Fin­nic dua­lis­tic soul be­liefs and the ghosts of the dead per­sons.

The ins­tal­la­tion Maid Anni ba­sed on Vie­na (Arc­han­gel) Ka­re­lian oral epic poem The Han­ged Maid. When Elias Lönn­rot wro­te so cal­led "Fin­nish Na­tio­nal Epic" The Ka­le­va­la, he used the poem as ma­te­rial for the sto­ry of Aino, the one of the most fa­mous Ka­le­va­laic cha­rac­ters. Maid Anni meets also a se­ducer or sui­tor in the woods - but in cont­rast to the Lönn­rot's ver­sion, they are not old man Väi­nä­möi­nen but "Ka­le­va­tar" (ac­tual­ly, their gen­der seems to be qui­te am­bi­va­lent) who ap­pea­red from the earth. Did Anni meet her­self, the sha­dow of her own or so cal­led "dop­pel­gän­ger" from the un­derworld?

Ety­mo­lo­gical­ly the Fin­nish word "itse", pa­ral­lel to "self", de­ri­ves from a Fen­no-Ugric word mea­ning "the sha­dow-soul". Si­mi­lar­ly, Fin­nish ver­sion of el­ves re­fers to the soul be­liefs and the idea of the in­di­vi­dual's per­so­nal guard or "ge­nius". In the drawing The Mir­ror I put to­get­her the idea of the sha­dow-elf as some kind of mir­ror ima­ge and the struc­tu­re of Édouard Ma­net's pain­ting A bar at the Fo­lies-Bergè­re.


Could you see a tree as an art? Could that tree be a part of the cul­tu­re? Who­se cul­tu­re?


Ori­gi­nal­ly the word ”cul­tu­re” re­fers to the agricul­tu­re. Via that ety­mo­lo­gical background, I see the con­nec­tion between the concep­tion of the wes­tern cul­tu­re and (maxi­mal) ca­pi­ta­lizing of the land, which has crea­ted the concept of the ow­ners­hip of the land. The Wes­tern way to un­ders­tand cul­tu­re as a re­la­tions­hip between ca­pi­ta­lizing and ow­ners­hip met very dif­fe­rent cul­tu­ral un­ders­tan­ding of the use and ow­ners­hip of land in Laplad. From the Wes­tern point of view, the cul­tu­re lea­ves marks, and in Lapland the­se kind of marks didn’t exist. From the Wes­tern (or the South, as we tend to say in Lapland) point of view Lapland has been seen as a pe­rip­he­ral and vir­gin No Man’s Land. That’s why the ma­jor parts of Fin­nish Lapland are still sta­te-ow­ned.

Art his­to­ry teac­hes us to un­ders­tad Ancient Greece as the star­ting point of our Wes­tern cul­tu­re. We have learnt that the his­to­rical background of the pain­ting lies in the crea­tion of the il­lusion. On the cont­ra­ry, the background of the sculp­tu­re goes back to the re­li­gious ob­jects like Ancient Greek vo­ti­ve sta­tues. The mea­ning of the­se ob­jects was not how the ob­jects repre­sent so­met­hing but how they exist. The dif­fe­rence between repre­sen­ta­tion and exis­tence is still in­te­res­ting because it tells so­met­hing es­sen­tial about our way to give mea­nings to our ma­te­rial sur­roun­dings.

But why go to Greece - it is so far away! If the cul­tu­re means, among the ot­her things, thin­king and doing art wit­hin some epis­te­mo­lo­gical fra­me, isn’t the­re also a con­nec­tion between thin­king and our phy­sical sur­roun­dings, the land? The land is neit­her emp­ty nor vir­gin. So­me­bo­dy has al­rea­dy seen, thought and used the land. When we talk about cul­tu­re and art we also have to discuss about power. From which point of view do we crea­te re­le­vant ques­tions and answers? In which kind of light the rea­li­ty beco­mes vi­sible?

Some years ago I spent the New Year ho­li­days in the old lum­ber­jack ca­bin in Naar­man­kai­ra, which is a lar­ge wil­der­ness area in the North-Eas­tern part of the Ro­va­nie­mi mu­nici­pa­li­ty in Lapland. Nowa­days this area is bet­ter known as the Ro­va­jär­vi Fi­ring Ran­ge. So­me­bo­dy had car­ried explo­ded gre­na­des to the sau­na, mea­ning to use them as cand­le­hol­ders. I star­ted to think how the­se me­tal ob­jects (Naar­man­kai­ra fo­rests are full of them) so­me­how replace the ob­jects of pre­vious fis­hing cul­tu­re: woo­den sta­tues which are cal­led as Round­heads, Fish vo­ti­ves or Fish sta­tues - the used name de­pends on how one un­ders­tands the mea­ning of the­se ob­jects and how strongly they wants to high­light the con­nec­tion between the­se sta­tues and old non-Chris­tian re­li­gious ha­bits. I star­ted to think the con­nec­tion between the ”cul­tu­re” and the ”na­tu­re”. I as­ked my­self which kind of things are pos­sible and vi­sible wit­hin our cul­tu­re. I star­ted to think about trees. I drew trees and car­ved some new ob­jects.

Kven Con­nec­tion Pro­ject is Norwe­gian-Fin­nish art pro­ject, inclu­ding re­si­dence pe­riods in Vadsø, Norway and ex­hi­bi­tions in Vadsø (Rui­ja Kven­museum, Oc­to­ber 2017) and in Ro­va­nie­mi, Fin­land (Ark­ti­kum, Re­gio­nal museum of Lapland, May 2018).

- - And old man, who is sit­ting with a spa­de in his hands, is Fin­nish - - [he] is sit­ting and loo­king his daugh­ter who holds a litt­le child - the Fu­tu­re - in her lap. A bra­ve fis­her­man is watc­hing ca­ringly to the Sea. He is a Norwe­gian and daugh­ter's hus­band. - -

- Sculp­tor En­sio Sep­pä­nen on sym­bo­lics of the Im­mi­gra­tion Mo­nu­ment in Vadsø 1977. Source: Vadsø Museum - Rui­ja Kven­museum


Why the Im­mi­gra­tion Mo­nu­ment, tri­bu­ting the eth­nic mi­no­ri­ty of Kvens in Norway, re­peat the of­ficial nar­ra­ti­ve of the norwe­gia­sa­tion po­li­tics about the Kven past and Norwe­gian fu­tu­re?

I drew the se­rie Double ligh­ting as a part of the Kven Con­nec­tion Pro­ject (2016-2018). The pro­ject was led by ins­ti­tu­tions; af­ter that I took part to the ar­tist-led ex­hi­bi­tion (Oc­to­ber 2018, Gal­le­ry Jie­ris, Muo­nio) in which we like to dee­pen the discus­sion about the cul­tu­ral and lin­gual rights of Kvens. I wro­te also an self-cri­tic ar­ticle about the chal­len­ges of social­ly en­ga­ged art in coo­pe­ra­tion with Kven ac­ti­vist Kat­rii­na Pe­der­sen.


No­tes du­ring re­si­dency pe­riod in Vadsø, Norway in March 2017

The next one is shor­te­ned and edi­ted ver­sion of the text ori­gi­nal­ly publis­hed in the blog of Kven Con­nec­tion Pro­ject (www.kvencon­nec­tion.tumblr.com ).

Let’s make some art about Kvens!

Or... wait, it’s not so easy. In which kind of con­text do we work wit­hin our pro­ject cal­led ”Kven Con­nec­tion”? The ge­ne­ral ques­tion is: How to make an art about ot­hers?

First idea: Kvens are Fin­nic-spea­king people li­ving in the Finn­mark area on the sho­re of the Arc­tic Sea.

Second: so­met­hing about Sa­mu­li Pau­la­har­ju. No, I ha­ven’t read Pau­la­har­ju’s folklo­ris­tic ta­les, but I know his works, of cour­se.

Third one: trips with fa­mi­ly to Norway when I was a child. Norway was the clo­sest fo­reign count­ry, a good place for ho­li­day trips. Ac­tual­ly, Swe­den was clo­ser, but the­re is not such a big dif­fe­rence between Fin­nish and Swe­dish Lapland in my mind.

As a child I’ve spent many sum­mer ho­li­days in Pel­lo which is a mu­nici­pa­li­ty at the bor­der of Fin­land and Swe­den. The­re is the Tor­nio­jo­ki ri­ver on the bor­der, cal­led also ”Väy­lä” (may­be ”The Way” in English), and the ri­ver ne­ver di­vi­ded but only con­nec­ted people. Count­ries are dif­fe­rent, but people are the same in many ways on the both si­des of the ri­ver. I know that the Tor­nio­jo­ki ri­ver is fa­mi­liar to many Kven people too. Many Kvens are from Tor­ne Val­ley area, from both si­des of the ri­ver. So I feel that the­re are some si­mi­la­ri­ties between my background and the Kven his­to­ry, lan­gua­ge and cul­tu­re.

Is it enough? Could I say that I un­ders­tand Kven people so­me­how? Is the­re any real con­nec­tion between me and Kvens?

I star­ted the pro­ject by rea­ding books. For aca­de­mic ar­tists like me rea­ding is the most na­tu­ral way to get any in­for­ma­tion - so, let’s go to the libra­ry first! Let’s read about his­to­ry and po­li­tics, about concep­tions and sta­tis­tics.

I lear­ned so­met­hing new about some words. The Fin­nish word ”Rui­ja”, used for the Finn­mark area, could also mean ”Nort­hern Lights”, like the old Norwe­gian name Haa­lo­ga­land (Ha­leu­gir = High fla­mes), which is the name of the area inclu­ding Nord­land, Tromsø and Finn­mark.

An ot­her in­te­res­ting point is the term ”Ter­ra Fe­mi­na­rum”, that ori­gi­na­tes from the me­die­val chro­nicle of Adam of Bre­men (1073-76). It’s pos­sible that the ”Land of the Wo­men” re­fers to the Kven­land - or not. May­be this con­nec­tion is ba­sed on a mi­sun­ders­tan­ding, because the words ”Kven” and Swe­dish ”kvin­ne” ( a wo­man) are so si­mi­lar.


7.3. Tues­day

I found a book cal­led ”Sol­gun­ni muis­te­lee - Sol­gunn for­tel­ler” (Me­mo­ries of Sol­gunn). The­re was a poem ”Oma kie­li” (The Lan­gua­ge of One’s Own).

I tried to trans­la­te it so­me­how:

The sky is so wide

Stars twinkle bright­ly

to the children of the World

Children of the World speak the lan­gua­ge of their own

- -

The litt­le Vili is a Kven

and he speaks the lan­gua­ge of his own

Now he doesn’t need to wor­ry

to get bat­te­red

when he speaks the lan­gua­ge of his own

How true that is! I have heard many of this kind of sto­ries also in Fin­nish Lapland. Too many pain­ful sto­ries (not only men­tal­ly, but also phy­sical­ly pain­ful).

8.3. Wed­nes­day

-Mea­su­re­ment, mo­ni­to­ring, sta­tis­tics

Does the sta­tis­tics tell the truth about the rea­li­ty? Are the sta­tis­tics ob­jec­ti­ve?

Las­si Sa­res­sa­lo explains in his stu­dy how the Sta­te of Norway gat­he­red sta­tis­tics about eth­nic groups of Finn­mark area. First the­re were th­ree dif­fe­rent op­tions: are you Norwe­gian, Sami or Kven? But then they simply drop­ped out the ques­tion about the Kven background. Du­ring many deca­des the­re were only two pos­sible eth­nic iden­tities: Norwe­gian and Sami. This is how the bu­reauc­ra­tic power and vio­lence work!

In Wes­tern count­ries we still be­lie­ve that we are in­nocent, that we didn’t treat our mi­no­ri­ties the same way than in to­ta­li­ta­rian count­ries. The mur­der of cul­tu­re hap­pens so­mew­he­re else... we be­lie­ve so strongly that we are on side of truth that the­re is a lack of words to desc­ri­be the dif­fe­rences between the of­ficial and the ”real” truth. For example, in Rus­sian lan­gua­ge this kind of se­pa­ra­tion is crea­ted by two words: the word prav­da means of­ficial or com­mon truth (ba­sed not only on facts but also be­liefs and opi­nions), whe­reas the word is­ti­na means the ”real” truth ba­sed on real facts.

My work deals with the dif­fe­rence between the­se terms, two kinds of truths:

-the dif­fe­rence between of­ficial and ac­tual rea­li­ty

-the dif­fe­rence between the na­tio­nal and the local points of view

-the dif­fe­rence between know­led­ge and ex­pe­rience

Ho­me­pa­ge of the Kven Con­nec­tion Pro­ject:


On Kven People:


Yh­teys­tie­dot Con­tacts