Huge congratulations to everyone in Øst-Finnmark and beyond the borderless Barents region: The brand new hospital in Kirkenes opens its doors today!
Since 2014 Riitta Ikonen and I have followed the builders at the new hospital site from bedrock to roof, spoken with patients, doctors and consultants at Prestøya, joined a round-up with Sami reindeer herders and learned how to make our arctic charr sushi dance. We’ve taken the mayor to a bog, manned a taxi station in Båtsfjord, wandered ancient cemeteries with academics and archaeologists, driven to the bottom of an iron-ore mine to find a turquoise lake, wrestled with a peace worker at the border and drunk black coffee with a sound recorder in many living rooms, hyttas, cars and offices to better understand the Jack-of-all-trade Finnmarkings.
We set our boots on the ground four years ago with a mission to portray the continuous transformation of this region, where multiculturalism has been a key identity marker throughout history and where changes in nature as well as historical and cultural influences continue to shape and reshape the everyday. The resulting portraits are now on permanent display at the new hospital waiting areas for everyone to explore, along with a book on the series.
We are deeply grateful and would like to thank all the fantastic contributors from all over Øst-Finnmark for their outstanding hospitality and generosity, for their collective effort in creating this series of portraits and for being our contemporary witnesses to the changes taking place in the Barents region.
We would also like to thank Finnmarkssykehuset, Kulturbyrået Mesén and Norsk-finsk kulturfond for giving us the chance to roam around Finnmark like two happy reindeers and Harard Gaski for lending us the title from his book of Sami proverbs, which nicely sums up the nature of this project. Jodi lea buoret go oru (Time is a ship that never casts anchor) means it is better to be on a journey than to stay still.
We will raise our glasses for a riotous hip hip hooray from Trondheim and New York today! Congratulations!