WEEKEND: Vibrant new exhibit ties EMMA in knots

Colourful handicrafts highlight Sámi culture, and are an important way of telling stories.

Detail from Outi Pieski's new exhibit at EMMA in Espoo / Credit: News Now Finland

If you’re thinking about how to brighten up the increasingly gloomy days when the rain comes (and the rain will definitely come!) then a new exhibit at the Espoo Museum of Modern Art EMMA could be the perfect autumn antidote.

Čuolmmadit showcases the work of artist Outi Pieski, who draws inspiration from her Sámi heritage and the Sápmi landscapes to weave together fabrics, thread and acrylics that take museum visitors on a journey.

“It’s very important when I do my installations that people can go inside and feel it in a very physical way also, experience it. For me it’s the same when you are at the forest and how you feel and how you experience there” says the artist, who divides her time between southern Finland and her studio in Utsjoki in northern Lapland.

The title of the exhibit means “to tie many knots” in the Northern Sámi language, and the centrepiece at EMMA is a maze of hanging threats, each knotted onto a larger supporting thread, which hang down in different colour groups and create a sense of three dimensions wherever you look.

“Every artists creates her work from her own background, and for me it’s obvious that my Sámi background is visible” Pieski tells News Now Finland.

The artist has a Sámi father and a Finnish mother, and grew up speaking Finnish. Her father came from a generation where many Sámi were ashamed to speak their own language, and a policy of educational ‘whitewashing’ for Sámi children meant many grew up not speaking the previous generations’ mother tongue. Outi Pieski has since reclaimed her language heritage by learning the Northern Sámi language as an adult.

“In Sámi culture you cannot separate handicrafts and fine art. Every visual art is connected to Sámi handicraft. And I want to point out that handicrafts are not just decorative, but behind the decorative colours there is our whole cultural history and our whole lifestyle and our thinking. It’s our book of knowledge which is really common in cultures which don’t have a long written cultural history” she explains.

The exhibit opened this week, and runs through the early part of January 2019. There’s free admission to EMMA every Friday from 17:00 to 19:00.