Leena Valkeapää examines in her dissertation the culture and the way of life of the Reindeer Sami
“All this is my home / these fjords rivers lakes / this cold this sunshine these storms” (Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, 1979)
Wind, reindeer, time, fire, people – the people living with reindeer in nature still have a straightforward relationship with the basic elements of life. Leena Valkeapää’s dissertation is a study aiming to develop artistic thinking in which the focus is on the way of life and the way of being in north-western Lapland which are both intertwined with nature.
In her dissertation, Leena Valkeapää goes beyond the traditional anthropological approach by engaging in a dialogue with Nils-Aslak Valkeapää's poetic, academic and literary portrayals of the Sami way of life and her own feelings. Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, Àillohaš (1943-2001) was a Sami artist working in a broad range of fields and he is probably best known in Finland as the creator and performer of the new yoik. He also published eight collections of poems two of which have been translated into Finnish.
In the dissertation, the dialogue intensifies as text messages of Oula A. Valkeapää, the husband of Leena Valkeapää, and excerpts from the work Kertomus saamelaisista (A portrayal of the Sami people) by Johan Turi, a member of the Swedish Sami community, are shown side by side with Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s poetry. Turi’s work was first published in 1910 as Muitalus sámiid birra and it was translated into Finnish in 1979. The dialogue involving three different narrators reveals common experiences, which each of the three describe using their own background as a basis. All three are members of the Sami people. In her study, Leena Valkeapää calls the way of life and the cultural traditions common to them reindeer life. The core of Leena Valkeapää’s dissertation is the dialogue relationship in which Oula A. Valkeapää’s thinking and her own thinking create a state of discussion.
Leena Valkeapää is an environmental artist who graduated from the University of Art and Design Helsinki as Master of Arts (Art and Design) in 2004. Her work includes a large number of exhibitions (both group exhibitions and exhibitions displaying her own works only), environmental projects and environmental works of art. The best known of her works of art is “Jäähuntu” (Icy Veil; 1999) at the rock cutting of Helsinginkatu in Turku. In addition to her artistic activities, Leena Valkeapää has also worked as a teacher of environmental art in a number of educational institutions. Between 2005 and 2010, she worked as a teacher of environmental education at the Department of Art of the University of Art and Design Helsinki.
Luonnossa, vuoropuhelua Nils-Aslak Valkeapään tuotannon kanssa (In nature - conducting a dialogue with the works of Nils-Aslak Valkeapää), the dissertation of Leena Valkeapää, Master of Arts (Art and Design), will be examined at the Aalto University School of Art and Design (Media Centre Lume, Sampo Hall, Hämeentie 135 C, Helsinki) at 12 noon on Friday 11 November 2011. Professor Tere Vadén from the University of Tampere will act as the opponent.
Leena Valkeapää’s dissertation will be published by Maahenki in the publication series of the Aalto University School of Art and Design in November 2011. Orders: TaiK Publications, email: books [at] taik [dot] fi, online bookshop: www.taik.fi/kirjakauppa
Leena Valkeapää, leena.valkeapaa [at] aalto [dot] fi