Noora-Mari Pelkonen – Karelia
April 6th, 6.30pm – June 1st
Karelia: The world is currently divided between those who have the good fortune to be able to claim that they belong in a particular place and those who have been forced by war, economic hardship or famine to take their luck in finding somewhere else to along the mass migration routes to become their home. What is at stake here is the profound need we have to belong, to believe that we are entitled by some birthright to an identifiable place in the world. The forced exile of nearly half a million Karelians from their home in the pine forests of Karelia after the second world war is an event that haunts the lives of their families even now – the memory of that other place, so close, just across a border, where they really belong.
Pelkoonen’s photographs capture the way in which this powerful sense of loss is embodied in the precious objects these families brought with away with them, in their deep relationship to the forests and lakes that are so like, and yet not like, the ones they have left behind. For this home they have made in Finland is always not home, always standing in place of the real Karelia, always a haunted allegory of loss. Two young women wander into the forest in their national dress; little grave houses are clustered in small groups underneath the trees; in a village hall the scenery for a play mimics the real landscape of forests and distant lakes – it is a scene that stands in for an imagined place. The stagehands have left the stepladder on the stage. How might one ever manage to climb out of this world?
Principal Lecturer, Course Leader MA Photography
University of Brighton
Noora-Mari Pelkonen is a Finnish photographer based in Brighton, UK. Her work considers identity, and the influence of landscape and cultural memory. She graduated with an MA in Photography in 2015. Her series “Karelia” was selected for the Source Graduate Online in 2015. She was nominated for the Magnum Graduate Photographers award in 2016.