composition of the landscape - gathering
posted by Laura Kaker on 31 May 2021

It's the curiosity about the colours and visual spectrum that began the process we are developing in Kilpisjärvi. During our first week at the station, we wanted to look as closely as we could and spend time with the colours from this landscape. What specifically is creating this composition? We began to gather plant bodies of the region and species that are very common such as birch trees and different kinds of moss. We looked at them in their environment in relation to other species. How do they behave in their environment?
After gathering them we began to isolate the differing shades, hues and pigments found in what we saw around us. How do they react in a vacuum? Does their colour change when they are alone?

"The shape of the water is changed by the moss and the moss is shaped by the water." - Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer

We are interested in gathering those enduring plant bodies that are living under the ice or snow cover. The snow contrasted the plants we saw when we took our first walks. The organisms that are surviving the harsh climate and its changes, waiting to mature every spring. The clean ice and snow layer is hosting species surviving under this winter blanket. The closer we looked, the more varieties we noticed. All the different plants are part of the puzzle of the landscape. They all have their own names.

When we are gathering them, we pay attention to not take too much, not too little, not the first one we see. Many species here are protected and are not allowed to be gathered so we are also gathering through other kinds of documentation.

"In indigenous ways of knowing, all beings are recognized as non-human persons, and all have their own names. It is a sign of respect to call a being by its name, and a sign of disrespect to ignore it. Words and names are the ways we humans build relationships, not only with each other, but also with plants." - Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer

Organisms and sediments pictured above:

betula pubescens
alpine juniper

bryopsida timmia

empetrum nigrum

sphagnum capillifolium

spinulum annotinum

vaccinium vitis-idaea

burnt loamy soil

hibernating loamy soil

subsurface loamy soil


sabrina shado hart & laura kaker