My April in Mustarinda residency

I applied to Mustarinda residency in Kainuu, Eastern Finland, to work on a book manuscript about postgrowth work and livelihoods and my ethnographic fieldwork since late 2016. Mustarinda residency is managed by the Mustarinda Association, which recently won a state art prize for multidisciplinary art. When I was accepted, the prospect of publishing an academic book became more real. Perhaps after April 2022 I could approach publishing houses with a solid table of contents and a text extract.

Past two years have been difficult with the pandemic. Past two months have been difficult with a war in Europe. As a result, it was not easy to tear myself off from my regular life. But I managed, and on April 1st I arrived in Paljakanvaara, where the residency is placed. In addition to an interrupted focus on my work, I have exercised a lot. During past 4 weeks I have moved my body more than I have during the past two years: yoga, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, walking on the road between waist-high snow banks, lingering in the snowy forest on well-treaded paths, and climbing up and down the Paljakanvaara sightseeing tower.

One corner of the Mustardina house in the middle of a lot of spring snow. Drawing by Eeva.

There are so many things to be grateful for in Mustarinda: the carefully planned and managed premises for post-fossils futures; previous Mustarinda actives, volunteers, house keepers and residents who have taken care of them; functioning spaces and the instructions how to use them; the incredible Paljakanvaara and its forests; silence broken only by the sound of birds and people walking in their rustling outdoor clothes (and their talk); the daily rhythm dictated merely by my own choices.

But beyond all, I am grateful for my April co-residents, including the two house keepers. I had no idea on April 1st that this group of people would mean so much to me on April 26th. We have laughed a lot, cried a little too, shared stories and food, screened many (interesting) films during nights, developed inside jokes, gone to sauna and trips, exhibited work in progress, and commented each others’ work. In just less than a month, friendships developed–most likely for life.

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