Art and archeology have long and close historical relations, but the current situation has not attracted much attention. The methodologies of contemporary art often bear a resemblance to archeology: artists “dig” in places such as archives, historical museums or flea markets. Current archeology, on the other hand, seems to be akin to contemporary art in that it is a complex and multi-layered discipline which investigates not only the ancient historical past but recent phenomena as well. The sub-disciplines of archeology have also evolved and broadened. One of the important “newcomers” is conflict archeology, which, as its name suggests, investigates conflicts such as World War II. Insofar as it deals with events that have had a huge impact on our thinking to this day, conflict archeology of course has dramatic political potential. This is exactly what Poetic Archeology is interested in.
Photo: Japo Knuutila
Deutsches Lager project 2015–2018
The Tulliniemi peninsula in Hanko was the point of arrival for German troops who began their transit through Finland from 1942 to 1944. The area was closed after World War II, but it attracted public attention in 2014 when the City of Hanko opened a nature trail there, and partly forgotten German barracks from the transit camp were discovered next to the trail. The camp had at one point comprised around a hundred buildings, and over the years hundreds of thousands of soldiers had stayed there on their way to ght in the north or to go on leave in Germany. Most of the extensive infrastructure was demolished in the past few decades because of extensions needed for the port of Hanko. A few of the buildings remain standing, however, and the topsoil contains a great number of objects left behind by the Germans.
The Deutsches Lager project will incorporate works that in various ways depict and examine the camp and the soldiers and their relatives who passed through the camp. It will also involve a more general investigation of the cultural significance of camps as a social paradigm.
The Deutsches Lager project both resembles archeology and is archeology – it effectively excavates history both physically (objects and texts) and visually (photographs and moving images). The visualizations of the Deutsches Lager project are processed by the artistic researchers Jan Kaila and Japo Knuutila. Kaila is affliated with the University of the Arts Helsinki, while Jan Fast, an archeologist and a PhD student at the University of Helsinki, is responsible for the scientific excavation and archival research.
Photo: Japo Knuutila
Jan Fast is a Finnish archeologist (MA) and exhibition coordinator. He has studied archeology and history at the University of Helsinki, the University of Turku and Åbo Akademi. At the moment Fast is working on his doctoral dissertation about the archeology and history large German, Second World War transition camp situated at Cape Tulliniemi, Hanko S. Finland. Jan Fast has conducted some 150 archeological excavations in Finland since his start as a field archeologist in 1986. During his long career as a field archeologist he has worked at several different science institutions. While working as an exhibition coordinator at Heureka, The Finnish Science Centre 1989-1997 he organized the famous archeological excavations of the large Neolithic dwelling site in Vantaa Jokiniemi. Some five hundred people participated in what still is considered the largest community archeology dig in Finland.
Jan Kaila studied at the Doctoral Program at the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts from 1997 to 2002 and got his Doctorate in Fine Arts (DFA) in 2002. Kaila was in 2004 appointed Professor of Artistic Research at Finnish Academy of Fine Arts and in 2008, he was elected Vice Rector of the Academy. Kaila has worked as a lecturer and as an evaluator of fine art education in several European countries. In 2004 he was a founding members of European Artistic Research Network. Kaila has held solo exhibitions and participated in group shows in various European countries, the United States, Russia, Japan and South Korea. Since 2014 Kaila works as Scientific Advisor in Artistic Research at the Swedish Research Council and as a Visiting Researcher at University of the Arts Helsinki leading the project Poetic Archeology.
Japo Knuutila is a photographer and writer. He works in a variety of media, including video and photography. Knuutila has graduated from University of Art and Design Helsinki 1982 and lives and works in Kirkkonummi, Finland. During the last 25 years his work has reflected an interest in how inherited cultural languages shape our experiences, our memories, desires and self-images. Landscape has been a reoccurring theme in his artwork as well. Since 1987 he has been teaching and lecturing in University of Art and Design Helsinki, Turku University of applied scienses, Metropolia University of applied scienses and Lahti University of applied scienses.
Deutsches Lager Symposium September 9, 2017
Poetic Archeology research project at the Academy of Fine Arts of Uniarts Helsinki
Venue: Exhibition Laboratory gallery, Merimiehenkatu 36, Helsinki
Deutsches Lager – On the relations between artistic and archeological research In and around a Camp in two parts
Saturday 9th September 2017
09:30–10:00 Jan Kaila and Japo Knuutila: Introduction to In and Around a Camp
10:00–10:45 Oula Silvennoinen: The Awkward Memory of Brotherhood in Arms
11:15–11:45 Jan Fast: German Transit Camp at Tulliniemi, Hanko “Deutsches Lager Hanko” 1942–1944
11:45–12:30 Turo-Kimmo Lehtonen: Walking on the Hidden
In 2014 when the City of Hanko opened a nature trail, partly forgotten German barracks of a transit camp were discovered. The camp had at one point comprised around a hundred buildings, and over the years hundreds of thousands of soldiers had stayed there on their way to fight up north or to go on leave to Germany. A few of the buildings remain standing, however, and the topsoil contains a great number of objects left behind by the Germans. In 2015 the group Poetic Archeology, Jan Kaila, Japo Knuutila, Jan Fast, began their project connected to the camp. This work has resulted in the now at Exhibition Laboratory displayed exhibition Deutches Lager.
13:30–14:00 Pohjakallio, Koskinen: Epistemic benefits
14:00–14:45 Mats Burström: The Poetic Dimension of Fragments
15:00–15:45 Olssen, Petursdottir - Sværholt: Poetics of Memory
15:45–16:30 Final discussion
Art and archeology have long and close historical relations. Not that much attention has been, however, paid to the current situation. Methodologies within contemporary art often resemble archeological activities; artist ”dig” in archives, in historical museums, in flee markets etc. Current archeology on the other hand seems to share contemporary art ́s identity in the sense that it is a complex and multilayered discipline which deals with not only ancient historical past, but also with phenomenas that have taken place quite recently. Also the sub-disciplines of archeology have changed and widened - one of the important ”newcomers” being Conflict Archeology dealing with for instance World War 2. Conflict Archeology, when dealing with events that still have a huge impact on contemporary thinking, of course has a dramatic political potential.
University Researcher Jan Kaila
Research Coordinator Michaela Bränn
firstname.lastname@example.org, +358 40 6313 553