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Photo Essay: The Forgotten Houses Of Finland’s Diaspora

Born in Finland and raised in Sweden, Martina Lindqvist never felt as if she belonged on either side of the Baltic sea. Her photography explores these feelings, using the barren, abandoned landscapes of her motherland as a metaphor for her estrangement from her mother country.

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In Neighbours, Lindqvist returns to the barren Scandinavia that her grandmother would have known: rural and sparsely populated, where signs of humanity are few, and the ones that do exist are in the process of being swallowed by the elements due to neglect.


“I started the series after I tried living for around six months in the small town where my mother grew up,” Lindvist tells me. “The area has seen a big outflux of people who have moved away to live in towns and cities over the years. Their homes are often left empty, because there’s no property demand in these areas.”

The houses fall into disrepair, and then eventually collapse into themselves, rejoining the landscape from which they once set themselves apart. In all, Lindqvist took pictures of around 80 such properties, in varying states of disrepair.

To Lindqvist, these houses are symbolic of her own failed attempts at settling down, as well as an attempt to capture what she calls the spatial and temporal stasis that seems to particular to remote areas. “I’m trying to explore the inherent tension between nature and inhabitation,” she says. “In a sense, these houses are a reflection of my own ‘Finnishness.'”

Lindqvist’s work, including her Neighbours prints, will be on display October 30 at London’s Photographer’s Gallery.

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