the conjuring of what is and isn't
posted by aRzu on 8 May 2023

As i sit down after a night shift at my job in Brussels, happy that i made it to the airport with a luggage just below the weight requirement, i read a message from my collaborator and friend Maria Lepistö. She is already at the Biological Station for our North Escaping Residency in Kilpisjärvi.

We can join a sound workshop in a ‘nearby’ village in Hetta, she writes. It means about 170km of deviation from my original destination, it is a definite ‘yes’. 

We are invited by Hannu, one of the scientists of the Biological Station here in Kilpisjärvi.  

i fly , i land , i take the train , i wait , i take the train , i sleep sitting , i see the winter landscape growing , the lights increasingly glowing , more white, more shiny, more serene, it is so very bright up here. in Rovaniemi the coffee tastes delicious. It's a dark roast, the waitress tells me but i know it's the finnish water. It is the best water i have ever laid on my tongue. i remember my time in Helsinki 7 years ago for another residency at Kallio with another wonderful collaborator and friend, but that’s another story. 

Now i push my heavy bag up to the bus stop. We drive , we change buses and the next thing i know, i am in Hetta, the distances are immense but it becomes relative here, 5 hours of drive through this magical landscape is time well spent. We are staying in a small hut nestled in between pines, a little bird feeder, our neighbor. 

As we arrive at the workshop the next day we meet a diversity of people from different corners but all of them came together to talk about silence and sound of Lapland. This is the most welcoming and intriguing prelude we could have wished for. We sit together in a circle in the sun and around a fire with artists and futurists talking about how silence can hit you out of nowhere like a car driving too fast for the reindeer to see and escape, about performing with smells and ego laundries. 

We are well surrounded here, that’s clear. 

The day after we finally make our way to Kilpisjärvi to get settled in the Biological station. The first week rushes by like a whiff of wind, the weather has turned colder, it is snowing again and as Maria goes on daily short walks and maps the area with her voice, i go through some books i got from the library of the Station as i recover from my arctic cold. i want to make drawings constituting the scientific research and the beauty and romanticism that we tend to impose on our surroundings. i want to capture the sound of the change here and the sound of what is and also of what is not.

We are here to conjure meaning , a story , something to make sense , to ensoul us , maybe a goddess?

But we don’t know yet how to interact. We take our camera and recorder, we want to explore and gather as we stomp clumsily with our snowshoes through the thickets of layers of snow that has piled up here in the last months. 

we want to blend in , immerse and be inspired to make up a story , harmless but also a lie. We want to make a cloak , a piece of garment that shall be sculpted out of this very patch of earth , we hold it into the camera , we wear it , we get entangled in it as the wind challenges our already shaky stands. After an hour we are dead beat as we stumble back to the Station. We will always try again another tomorrow. 

We are both inspired by science and mythology, two very different ways of storytelling , yet they both are impositions of human perspectives and endless ascriptions of meaning to our environment while their Latourian ‘thinging’ in fact is just about enough. Why is it not just enough? But the agency of the ‘thing’ is a subject of such density and layers it is so evident and yet faces so much stubbornness , seems like such a hard nut to crack. But we are here for that to listen and be reshaped or at least be moved closer through storytelling. maybe it is even better said with the words of everso inspiring Harraway. We are here because: 

It matters what matters we use to think other matters with; it matters what stories we tell to tell other stories with; it matters what knots knot knots, what thoughts, what descriptions describe, what ties tie ties. It matters what stories make worlds, what worlds make stories. -Donna Haraway, Staying with the trouble