Finland is a strange exception in the north. I'm not quite sure how we ended up here between the Vikings and the Russians. Our surroundings reflect our identity, which is often described as quiet and modest—but more than that, these surroundings reflect back on the people.

But I think this melancholic state of mind is our strong point (though it is a thing that most of the Finnish people feel ashamed of). I'm proud to be Finnish—even if I'm a stereotypical, mute Finn. But most Finns have been hiding their national identity for decades. They want too much to be like our neighbors in the West.

This project is about the nine months that Finland is closed. People are hiding in their warm nests and have abandoned the stages where they perform their holiday rituals. In many of the places where I travelled to take pictures I encountered strong emotions through the memories that these places brought to my mind. There is something really magical in bleak summer cities like Hanko or Naantali. I could still sense the presence of the tourists' loud voices and the smell of summer. These ritual landscapes continue their life when we are away. The absence brings up memories and layers that remain alive in these deserted places, even when they are on vacation (from our vacations).

—Jussi Puikkonen


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