The Forest Finns’ understanding of nature was rooted in an eastern shamanistic tradition, and they are often associated with magic and mystery. Rituals, spells, and symbols were used as a practical tool in daily life; one that could heal and protect, or safeguard against evil.
This photographic project draws on these beliefs while investigating what it means to be a Forest Finn today, some 400 years and twelve generations later, at a time when the 17th-century way of life is long gone, and their language is no longer spoken.
I began to work on it as a graduation project at the Danish School of Journalism – and it evolved into a long-term venture. I spent three years on research and asked myself: How can I picture something as immaterial as culture – especially one that has nearly died out? I took certain elements of the past – fire, smoke and shamanism – and introduced them into the story. This blurs the lines between reality and fiction, between documentation and imagination. It is a deliberate attempt to create a fictional universe, a magical world.
My pictures also address the grey area between migration and origin. At what point does a migrant become a native? In fact, the only official criterion for belonging to this minority is that, regardless of your ethnic origin, you simply feel that you are a Forest Finn.