Like the Iliad and the Odyssey, the Finnish national epic known as the Kalevala grew out of a rich oral tradition with prehistoric origins—but to this day, it continues to have an impact in contemporary Finland and beyond.
“Do you remember?,” a new exhibition at the Finnish Institute in Berlin, asks four international artists to address the interpretation of and reaction to the Kalevala. Under the curatorial vision of Berlin-based author Dr. Christine Nippe, artists Tatiana Echeverri Fernandez, Oliver Godow, Mathilde ter Heijne and Jorinde Voigt immersed themselves in the world of the Kalevala epic to develop new visual artworks that take on questions of myth, remembrance, and cultural memory.
First published by Elias Lönnrot in 1835, the Kalevala is unique in its verse form and sound. The central plot traces the journeys of the bardic hero-shaman Väinämöinen in his quest for a mate, together with the theft of a powerfully magical mill called the Sampo. The epic consists of 22,795 verses, divided into 50 cantos or “chapters.” It has been translated into more than 50 languages and has been influential on the works of major authors from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to J.R.R. Tolkien.
“Do you remember?” opens on September 14 with a performance by Mathilde ter Heijne and talks by Dr. Laura Hirvi of the Finnish Institute and Dr. Ulla Piela of the Kalevalaseura Foundation. Running through Dec 15, the exhibition is part of The Artists’ Kalevala, a project initiated in 2008 by the Kalevalaseura Foundation in collaboration with the Helsinki Distilling Company and Design Hotels member Klaus K (which itself was inspired by the Kalevala epic).
It was conceived to coincide with Finland’s celebration of 100 years of independence, since the Republic of Finland was proclaimed on December 6, 1917. From the Middle Ages, Finland had been a part of Sweden, until it became an autonomous Grand Duchy within the Russian Empire in 1809.
Click here to find out more about “Do you remember?”. By sending an RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org for the opening event of the exhibition on Sept 14 , you’ll automatically be entered to win a two-night voucher at Klaus K.