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Artists' Association MUU » ANNE SIIRTOLA: The Song of Hungry Land, new verses 11 January – 3 February 2013 MUU gallery
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ANNE SIIRTOLA: The Song of Hungry Land, new verses 11 January – 3 February 2013 MUU gallery

videokaappausThe Song of Hungry Land, New Verses takes as its starting point the anthem of the province of Kainuu in Finland.

In the work we see contemporary immigrants from the provincial capital of Kajaani sing the song in the original Finnish version, along with new interpretations based on their own life experiences.

The work is the result of a collaborative team effort in which the participants studied the song’s history and discussed how its content is perceived in this day and age, in a global world.

stillkuva videostaOriginally from Sudan, Kongo and Somalia, these new Finns wrote new verses to the song in their own languages, telling about problems and how they can be overcome, about a journey to a faraway land, and about longing back home to one’s near and dear ones.

Created in collaboration with: Omnia Ali, Navi Nguon, Senait Mesmer, Kiza Rukikiza, Ruqia Yusuf, Selamawit Yifru-Bedan


When Finnish writer Ilmari Kianto wrote a poem about a land of hunger in 1911, the famine years of 1866–1868 still lingered in collective memory and hunger remained part of the lot of poorer people. Anne Siirtola began analysing the lyrics and history of the anthem with project participants. She told them how her own grandmother had eaten bark bread – trees for making bark flour could be felled for free in government forests.

p1010912Modern-day immigrants were surprised to learn about poor living conditions in Finland, rise in the standard of living had been so fast in this country. This was the situation in which they began writing new verses to the anthem and varying the tune. Everyone also participated in planning the scenes and locations and choosing footage for the final work.

p1010911The Song of Hungry Land belongs to the Finnish National Collection, and it still evokes strong emotions in listeners. Is it alright for an immigrant to sing a provincial anthem in a typically Finnish hill landscape? Does he or she really belong to the national landscape and community? Can we share what is precious to us with those who have a need for it? The artists herself sees immigrants as pioneers, harbingers of new culture and interaction, broadening the milieu and perspectives of people in the North.

Anne Siirtola works with installation and moving images. As an artist, she is interested in interaction and encounters. In recent years, Siirtola has conducted community projects in Finland, Russia and West Africa. In them she reflects with other participants on what is important in life and worth aspiring to.


Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture, Kainuu Fund of the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Ministry of Education, Arts Council of Finland, Frame


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