The series of videos titled Riverness Saga is a homage to my mom and the Kiiminki River that bears references to ancient Finnish mythology, and the story of female Creator Goddess Ilmatar. My mom created me from the river. She took me to her swims since I was four years old. No morning swim has ever escaped for me after that. She taught me to swim, float, dive and tackle the many currents underneath. I realised that her aim was not to ever be concerned about my safety when I am near water, because the river runs all over, filled with white water. She would take me across the river, and let me rest on her belly, as she turned around. Once a huge butterfly, an Old World Swallowtail, landed on our little human isle, on my belly, and rested too. After that I have never seen one again. By the age of ten I already had my own boat, which I took to the river everyday. No rapid or current would stop me as I knew them all. Our playground was the river and most of the stories I knew were about the river. People lived on its banks and all the seasons were dictated by the river’s flow. Mom was buried up the hill nearby the river with the notes of a song called Peregrine Falcon. I am convinced she left for the sea long ago, washed by the rains the following spring after her passing. When me and my sister went to visit her grave, we heard the Peregrine Falcon screach above us high up in the clouds. That day the newspapers of Northern Finland wrote that there had been several sightings of a Peregrine Falcons migrating to Lapland in spite of being considered to be on the verge of extinction in the area.
Moved by Nature, exhibition in Michigan US, press release:
Taina Kontio will screen two videos from her RIVERNESS saga; My Riverness and My Mythology. Both videos tell modern stories through personal stories and videos about water with visual references to old Finnish myths. Kontio spent 2001-03 living in Hancock and serving as an Artist in Residency at Finlandia University. During that period she developed a trademark style of combining stories and videos to create videopoetry. Her videopoetry is award winning, having won two awards at film festivals in NewYork and Toronto.
“I developed videopoetry during my years in the US, and this is a tribute to those times, which were both challenging but also very fruitful for me,” says Kontio. “The solitude and majestic landscape of Upper Peninsula served both as a great inspiration for my artisty, but also at the same time my mother in Finland fell ill and passed away.” My Riverness pays tribute Kontio’s mother and the Kiminki River. It also references Ilmatar, the Finnish goddess of the air and creator of the world in Finland’s epic poem the Kalevala. “My mom created me from the river,” says Kontio. “She took me to her swims already when I was four. By the age of ten, I already had my own boat that I took to the river everyday, no rapid or current would stop me, I knew them all. Our playground was the river, most of the stories were about the river, people living on its banks, all the seasons were dictated by its flow.”
My Mythology is about a friend of Kontios and also references to Kalevala with Lemminkäinen and her mother on the Tuonela Tiver. The Tuonela River is the river of passing in old Finnish mythology.