Afrikanda – On Machines and Devices

I utilise a historical and scenic perspective to photograph locations destined to fade into oblivion as the focal points of world politics and economy move elsewhere. These post-industrial landscapes feature buildings and objects that have lost their purpose and are now slowly crumbling away and disappearing. The central themes in my pieces include the marks left by human activity in the landscape, the utilisation of natural resources, and technology.

The exhibition consists of photographs, sculptures and video installations inspired by visits to the abandoned Afrikanda air base located in the Kola Peninsula of Russia. There are differing stories about the origin of the name. One of the stories claims that, when building the Afrikanda railway, the weather in the North was as hot as in Africa.

The Afrikanda air base brought together ideological utopias and an attempt at technological superiority in the rugged environment of the North. The fighter planes had been removed, but the imposing hangars and a random selection of purposeless items are still there to remind us of the past as well as the twists and turns of history as a decaying relic of the Cold War era. The views make us ponder about the chemicals and toxins in the soil – as well as the future of the Arctic Ocean. The hangars and runways built with concrete slabs are a surreal image in the subarctic nature characterised by low-rising trees and marshes. People’s relationship with nature is strongly present in this exhibition as well.

The airplane, automobile and space technology are some of the symbols of our time. We examine and experience the world with and through technology: transmitted by state-of-the-art technology or with the help of simple tools. I think about machinery and devices built by people to maintain and protect life and, on the other hand, destroy it. We spend so many resources on something that, in a relatively short amount of time, becomes dispensable or unwanted.

Kaisu Koivisto (1962) has become well-known for her sculptures, installations and photographs celebrating the particular identity and transformations of the northern landscape. Surprising combinations of subject matter and material are characteristic of Koivisto’s pieces where she explores the boundaries between nature and culture. Kaisu Koivisto’s artwork has been exhibited both in Finland and abroad.
She would like to thank the Alfred Kordelin Foundation for supporting her artistic work and the Arts Promotion Centre Finland for supporting the exhibition. Special thanks to Risto Vuorenrinne for his help on photography trips.