Kirjeitä Argentiinasta / Letters from Argentina
Mail Art, mixed media, 11 letters, one disappeared

The artwork contains letters that I wrote in 2023 and sent from San Miguel de Tucumán, North Argentina to the Museum of Helinä Rautavaara, Espoo, Finland. The artwork has been made as part of the research project ”Narratives of Finland: Historical Culture, Arts and Changing Nationality”.

The project is “interested in the processes through which the narratives of Finland have originated, how the contents of those narratives have been negotiated, and what kind of narrative of Finnishness is mediated to the public. The central theoretical concepts of the study are historical culture, narrative, museum agency, cultural memory, and the politics of memory. The project includes an artistic part in which Finnishness is called into question by asking artists with different cultural backgrounds to take part in producing new viewpoints on the Finnish nation. The Narratives of Finland is funded by the Kone Foundation and is coordinated by the University of Helsinki’s discipline of Political History. The program started in May 2021 and will last three years. The artistic part was carried out from April 2023 to August 2024 in cooperation with Mannerheim Museum, Helinä Rautavaara Museum, Cultural Centre Caisa, Vantaa Art Museum Artsi and Gallen-Kallela Museum.“

You can read more about the project here:

In the letters, I contemplate my relationship with the Finnish national identity and how it changes when living abroad. Chance and uncertainty have played a part in the artwork since the letters have been sent individually by the post office; out of 11 letters, 10 reached the destination. The lost one was written on top of the letter I got together with my Argentinian residency permit/identity card. The envelope was made by using the images of my Finnish passport. The disappearance of this letter completed the artwork; The identity identifications of both countries got lost somewhere in between, just like my national identity.  This said, writing the letters has been an introspective journey where thoughts and observations have gone forward and become clearer or changed.

The act of writing by hand, making a letter and walking to the post office, queueing, repeating the same task over and over again, and having the same conversation with the same people at the post office, has become an invisible but essential part of the artwork that makes a reference to the old traveler’s or immigrant’s traditions.

The material of the letters varies from the vegetable store’s newspapers for wrapping eggs, and empty maté paper bags to the attachment letter of the Argentinian ID card and the art university’s leftover paper that is sold at the price of a beer bottle on the streets of the neighborhood.