Varjakka: Remembering the Forgotten

Varjakka Sawmill    copyright: © Kansallisarkisto/Uleå oy:n pääkonttorin I arkisto

Keho on Dacha – the research project by contemporary artists in the North of Finland and Russia – is gladly introducing its team and the sites we explore.

Please, welcome to Varjakka, a village in the suburbs of Oulu, Northern Finland, the one with a dramatic past and an inspiring present.

Keho on Dacha initiators – artists and TaikaBox dance/ tech company cofounders John Collingswood and Tanja Råman – have been having ongoing projects to initiate cultural activities in the area and use the arts as a new engine to revitalise the village. One of them is called Warjakka after the old name for the village. It includes artist residency programmes, archeological research, community gardens, workshops and courses, an augmented reality heritage app, collecting stories from members of the community and making films and other artwork. Here is what Tanja and John tell about the site:

Visual artist John Collingswood (second form the left) and dance artist Tanja Råman (first from the right) in the community gardens in Varjakka (photo: personal archive of John Collingswood and Tanja Råman)

“The village of Varjakka sits in the forests on the edge of the Bay of Bothnia, just outside Oulu, Finland. The quiet village consists of a few hundred households, a school and a bar, a harbour and a ghost island – but dip into the past and you uncover a vibrant history, with Warjakka Island home to a sawmill industry that employed over 700 people during the start of the 20th century. In 1929 the sawmill closed down and the island was gradually abandoned, leaving a few buildings and traces of the community that once lived and worked there”.

Breaking the limits, whether it is distance or time, is one of our favourite things in “Keho on Dacha” policy and philosophy.

“Keho on Dacha” project explores site-specific performance and community-based art making and their social impact in Varjakka and Oulu, Northern Finland, and Kalinushki and Arkhangelsk, Northern Russia.

In this blog we are sharing the work in progress and things that inspire us in our research.

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