Frozen winds in Finland: Riisika frozen sculpture

From the author

Riisika Sunraya.

Ten years ago, like any other Finnish schoolboy, I made my way up to Rinisika. Taking a boat over a deep valley to get up close to the enormous surface of water, I fell in love with this enchanting, spectacular landscape.

The grassy slopes at top were covered with layers of skin-coloured lichen and moss, found only in some of the colder places on Earth. Even in the summer, this mountain scenery was breathtaking to see.

I saw myself standing here, at the foot of this titanic mountain, in as distant a future as I could imagine. But when I came back from my four-day trip, I heard rumours of a floating sculpture area on the shores of Riisika. It was at this point that I was moved by the dedication of Finnish artists Hannu Holm and Joonas Oho, designers and the pioneers of art on the shores of the frozen lake.

We became friends over the years, and realised we shared similar ideas about the place as an attraction – and the story of Riisika was a perfect match for their dream.

The diving lake and its resort town transformed in 1998 into a major tourist attraction and destination.

The response from people attracted from all over the world and the atmosphere among the local residents is something that keeps us looking at this frozen landscape. The floating sculptures attract people from all over the world, especially the younger generation.

According to Joonas, who brought the concept of floating sculpture to the Nordic countries in 2004, the idea comes from the idea of living nature, being near lakes instead of away from the cities and the concrete. This idea that we could go to a place where nature has no borders – the concept “balancing” philosophy gives strength and balance to the dream.

I was 16 when I went to the paintings on the islands, but there were no floating sculptures. Ten years later, I’m still amazed by the art but also the change that had happened around the frozen waters.

Joonas describes the lakes as different from other lakes in Europe, not only because of the winter but also because of the insulation of the surroundings. Yet, with the theme of living water, I think the theme of floating sculptures is so different from the flood lamps that flow into the water, that some might wonder what they are.

But the two are very close.

Joonas and Hannu said, “Floating art creates a network effect and the condition of getting immersed. The hydrometeorology of the wet season is created from a temperature of 30°C, a shallow current and a mix of different chemicals. The aim is that one or more of these elements are combined with another to create positive energies for people, animals and plants that will remain in the water in the future.”

The gardens of the drifting sculptures form a perimeter of trees and other plants and trees spread to form small rivers, sea and forest areas. Near the sculpture roofs are already developed. The presence of people and the intricate surroundings allows the constant turnover of new people.

“We’re making art where and when we want to, without interference and under the eyes of the great creator,” said Joonas.

This year, there will be a fourth floating sculpture, Peace and Perfect Ice. In fact, in August this year, Swedish artist Anna Levental took a boat up to Riisika. She said in a statement that she was “astonished” at the beauty of the lake’s summer. “It was simply perfect.”

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