I enter the world of water, into the reflection.
From the riverbed, I step into the unknown,
to the world of beavers, fishes and water birds.

The simple, straight form of the ribbon starts to find new ways.
It races through the landscape, entwines, weaves into
giant knots, rosettes, cobwebs and labyrinths.

— Riitta Päiväläinen

River Bed. River Notes © Riitta Päiväläinen
In her series River Notes, Riitta Päiväläinen makes ephemeral, meditative land art that ripples with long wide hand-sewn ribbons of fabric, wild nature and water reflections in secluded places. “The results are maze-like weavings,” she writes, “outlines without distinguished endings or beginnings, organic creations almost like those found in nature.”

She expands on these ideas in a poetic way:

“Landscape is not only a topographical, objective phenomenon. For me, it is personal and subjective. Working with a landscape means going into it: experiencing and sensing the place, finally being one, equal part of it. By bringing the landscape and ribbons together, I create a dialogue―an interaction. Feelings, odors, shapes, and colors of the surrounding nature inspire and evoke something in me. My aim is to suggest and bring forth potential stories, mental images and associations.

“In my photographs there are no landscapes with geographical or man-made landmarks. I am interested in the opposite; silent places that are abandoned, secluded, uninhabited. My wish is to bring them to the front, give them voice.

“Wading in the rivers, streams and flooded areas enables observation from unusual perspectives. For me the water represents mirages of our dreams, memories and our subconscious. Combined with the ribbons, the results are riddles that lure the viewer further into the images.”

Glow. River Notes © Riitta Päiväläinen

Indeed, each time I look at the scenes in River Notes, I feel compelled to pause and look more carefully, and to reflect on the intricate intertwining of all life forms on the planet. It’s a simple idea brought to life with quiet elegance and finesse.

For me, these well-imagined meditations induce a sense of wonder, and remind me of the effortless flow of nature. Her ribbon-like fabrics also suggest the idea of bandages that form connections, that heal, that recognize interdependencies―reminders of the fragile balance that is at risk in the very real crises happening now, affecting everything at once in every part of the Earth.

— Jim Casper