Elsa Salonen

I Walk in the Forest as in a Temple

pigments, flour, lichen, a bear skull and other animal bones, brass bowls, yoghurt, buttermilk
2012, dimensions variable

The symmetric floor pattern is created with pigment and flour mixtures. Additionally, it includes lichen collected from Finnish forests, animal bones, such as a bear skull and brass bowls. The paintings created directly on the gallery windows were made with pigments, yoghurt and buttermilk.

The organic elements of the installation represent Finnish heritage. A bear skull rests in the middle of the pattern; the most important of the Finnish sacred feasts, Karhunpeijaiset, was held in honour of a hunted bear. The work brings Finnish folk beliefs together with foreign influences that have been significant for the artist. The shape of the floor piece could be seen as a kind of mandala, a sacred diagram used in Buddhism. While the traditional mandala guides to enlightenment, the incomplete patterns of the installation represent a personal, ongoing research.

Exhibition views: Grimmuseum, Berlin, 2012 / Photographer: Jere Salonen

The origin of the word pyhä (holy) is not connected with any of the religions. The word has been used for thousands of years in different societies to express a dividing border - a border that defines the meaning for different phenomena. Only later pyhä has been taken into use by religions. The languages of the northern peoples don't have a word for religion, but instead place importance on the concept of pyhä.

Outi Tikkanen, Sauvojen salaisuus, 2006