Narrative, Power and the Public
12. Leena Valkeapää: “Recognize the Unique and Stick with It”
Leena Valkeapää is an artist, teacher and researcher who lives in Kilpisjärvi, Finland, about 400 kilometers north of the arctic circle, in a small house by a lake three kilometers from the nearest road. Her husband, Oula A. Valkeapää, is a reindeer herder of Sami origin, spending most of his time out in open air, where Leena often joins him. Leena Valkeapää’s dissertation, Luonnossa. Vuoropuhelua Nils-Aslak Valkeapään tuotannon kanssa, (In Nature. Dialogues With Nils-Aslak Valkeapää’s oeuvre) describes the experience of the reindeer herding way of life, using as starting points the poetry of Nils-Aslak Valkeapää, the texts of Johan Turi and SMS messages from Oula Valkeapää.
Tere Vadén: I want to discuss your artistic research dissertation on nomadic reindeer herding later, but first I want to ask what are you doing now that the dissertation is done? Are you still doing artistic research, are you an artist, a teacher? I know you teach and do art, but how do you see your practice these days?
Leena Valkeapää: I just gave a lecture in the University of Helsinki in a course on the roots of European civilization, and I think that the lecture was a work of art. For instance, the visualization was of a different kind than that typically used by scientists, and likewise I approached the rhythm of the presentation in a different way. Through its visual aspect and its dramaturgy, the performance aspect in terms of using...
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