Sorcerer’s Daughter was artist Nina Mutik’s story based installation that was presented at the Koli Environmental Art Festival in the year 2015 from July to October. The installation was made by Nina Mutik (idea and installation), Tarja Hallberg (script and texts) and Samuli Teerilahti (music). Sorcerer’s Daughter told the fictional story of researcher Kari Pitkänen who had disappeared. By studying the site of disappearance and Kari’s notebook the visitors could deduct what had happened to Kari.
The installation’s trailer:
This documentation describes the installation itself, the story behind it, the hints that were given to figure out what happened and how the work group made the piece.
If you have seen the installation and just want to read the story behind the mystery, skip straight to the part “Story”.
A showcase video of the installation:
The installation was built to the abandoned Poikola farm in Koli village. The small dirt road to the separates from the main road leading to the top of Koli mountain. In this crossing there was a white mailbox where you could take a flashlight and Kari Pitkänen’s notebook and head down to the farm to investigate.
You can find Kari’s notes from this link as a pdf file:
The installation was spread all over the abandoned farm’s area and had several different parts. The main sites were a spring behind the barn, the huge yard spruce beside the main building and a small sauna beside a stream.
There was red linen yarn weaved around the site and it lead the investigators to all parts of the installation. There were white fabric flags hung on the yarn and they had red painted symbols on them.
- Seven rocks with yarn attached to them had been thrown into the spring. The strings from these were bound together and attached to a huge cart wheel iron that had been bound to stay upright. In the middle of this iron ring hung a smaller iron ring. Through this you could see the huge spruce and what was under it.
- Most of the yarn and flags were under the huge yard spruce. There was also a stand on which had been hung a woman’s black dress with red embroidering. Beside a big rock behind the spruce there were two old half full vodka bottles and the yarn went inside them. One flag had a bloody hand print. There were seven small stones hung in mid air with the red yarn from a near by willow. You could a hear faint, sad violin playing behind the main buildings door. From the yard tree the red yard with flags led to the small sauna.
- In the sauna’s dressing room there were Kari’s bag, clothes, towel, camera, an empty bottle, skin paint and a model drawing for painting the symbols. In the sauna there were means for washing, a bowl full of polypores, a birds nest with egg shells and ashes in a glass jar.
Photos of the installation:
You can listen to the music of the installation from this link. The music is also played in all the videos.
Folklore researcher Kari Pitkänen had been studying Koli areas stories and especially the sorcerer Ukko Kinolainen for a long time. In his field research he gathered stories and old documents from the area. Kari had found several mentions of Kaisa, a woman that lived in Koli in mid 19th century and believed that she was Ukko Kinolainen’s daughter. In her diary Kaisa told that she plans to go to the Underworld to meet her father and get his powers. Kinolainen had abandoned his daughter so the sorcerer’s powers were never passed on. Kari tracked Kaisa’s journey to the Poikola farm at the root of Koli mountain and believed that she did the ritual there and went into the Underworld. For proof Kari found a letter from Kaisa under the sauna’s dressing rooms bench. In the letter Kaisa describes the ritual she used to open the gates to the Underworld.After reading Kaisa’s letter Kari started to have dreams about her. He planned to repeat the ritual Kaisa had made to open the gates to allow Kaisa’s passage back to this world. Kari believed that he could bring Kaisa back alive and started to prepare for the ritual. Kari felt that he had fallen in love and was excited about all the invaluable lost knowledge and skills Kaisa could offer. In April 2015 Kari performed the ritual following the instructions and disappeared.
Kaisa was a powerful witch and she decided to get her father’s powers from the Underworld. She was sure she could get there, but unsure whether she could get back. She planned a backup. Kaisa left traces of her journey and cast a spell on her notes and letters. She planned everything so that someone could follow her and fall in love with her by reading her enchanted writings. After the one who would follow had fallen in love, it was sure that they would perform the ritual according to her instructions. The ritual however was not made to unite the lovers as promised. The ritual would swap a living soul to one from the Underworld. The follower would end up in the Underworld and Kaisa would be free and alive in this world.
Kari performed the ritual and entered the Underworld. Kaisa came back to this world. She appeared under the spruce, naked and covered in blood, after being away for over a century. The symbol that marked the exchange disappeared from the flag under the tree. Kaisa took the shawl from the shoulders of the dress and covered herself with it. She took staggering steps and grabbed a flag leaving a bloody hand print. Kaisa left, free again. Kari is in the Underworld, forever, filling her place. Did Kaisa get her father’s powers? What will she do now? The answers are left to the next story.
There were five important clues from which you could’ve deducted what had happened. If you compared the ritual site under the yard tree to the drawing of the site in Kari’s notes, you noticed that a shawl from the shoulders of the dress was missing as was one of the symbols from a flag on the spruces trunk. In the symbol there was a human in the Underworld and a human here it meant the switching of places of Kari and Kaisa. When the spell worked, the symbol was used and disappeared. The shawl Kaisa took to cover herself, because you come naked and covered in blood from the Underworld. The bloody hand print was also left by Kaisa. From Kaisa’s spell in Kari’s notes you could read that the point was not to open a gate but exchange a person to another. It was said quite clearly, but Kari was under the witches spell and couldn’t make sense of it. The mirrored writing in the end of the notes is in Kari’s handwriting. It tells that Kari has already partly transferred to the Underworld, where everything is inside out and upside down. So the spell actually worked.
MAKING THE INSTALLATION
The installation was made by actually doing everything Kari had done before his disappearance. We set the spell in to the terrain, made the rituals and left Kari’s belongings where they were left. We also traced Kaisa’s steps, took the shawl and left the hand print. We left Kaisa’s violin echoing from the Underworld. Kari’s notes were done while creating the piece, at the same time that Kari would have written them. By acting the main characters in the story we strived for creating as realistic an end result as we could without artistic metaphorical overexpression.