Lauri Linna: Green Blue Gold

Lauri Linna: Green Blue Gold




12:00 – 18:00


clear sky

Lauri Linna’s installation Green Blue Gold (2022) includes a plant gene bank collected by himself in the Juomasuo mining project area in Kuusamo as well as video documentation. Established in 2021, the gene bank currently includes 180 herbarium pages and seeds of 70 different plants. The videos are played on smartphones collected from Kuusamo residents. In percentage terms, a smartphone contains more gold and cobalt than the same amount of rock from Juomasuo.

The work aims to save the local flora by archiving plants before mining operations start. With the help of the gene bank, the plants can be cloned and replanted after mining operations have ended in the area. In 2023, the collection of gene bank material started in many other mining project areas in Kuusamo. Green Blue Gold was on display at the Chill Survive network’s Chewing the Tundra exhibition held at the WUK cultural centre’s Kunsthalle Exnergasse in Vienna, Austria, in 2022. The installation will also be on display at Poriginal Gallery in Pori in November 2024.

Kuusamo is known for its wide range of species. Oulanka National Park has more endangered species than any other national park in Finland. New species previously unknown to science are still found in the area almost every year. Due to the abundant natural resources, a large part of the Kuusamo area, equivalent to half of the Uusimaa region, is of interest to mining companies. In the future, the mines would produce cobalt and gold. Furthermore, the area is of interest to those prospecting for copper and diamonds, and there is also uranium and other radioactive elements in the bedrock. Radioactive water is already leaking into bogs and streams in nature reserves through some of the old test boring pipes used by prospectors.

Many of the Kuusamo mining projects are located near Lake Kitkajärvi, known as Finland’s biggest spring. The Juomasuo mining project is located right next to the connected Kitkajoki river and only 15 kilometers from the Ruka ski resort. Water coming from the mine would most likely pollute the river, and the polluted water would flow towards the southern parts of Oulanka National Park that is visited every year by hundreds of thousands of tourists admiring the nature and spectacular rapids along the Karhunkierros trail. Eventually, the dirty water would end up in Lake Panozero (Paanajärvi in Finnish) in Russia.

Cobalt makes batteries efficient and is therefore a critical part of energy production during the green transition. Due to the growing demand for cobalt worldwide, it is now called blue gold. A cobalt mine would thus support climate work, especially in the rapidly warming Arctic region. However, from a local perspective, this transition also poses a threat to Kuusamo’s unique nature, residents and livelihoods, including natural livelihoods.

As a result of the war in Ukraine, the European Union has determined that one of its key aims is to ensure its ability to produce critical raw materials, such as minerals used in batteries. Finland also aims to develop its own battery industry. It is likely that Europe’s remote areas will become sources of the EU’s critical raw materials. Increasing mining activities may ruin these areas that are often significant due to their natural values. In addition to Kuusamo, many northern areas are experiencing a similar situation.

Lauri Linna (b. 1981, Kokkola) is an artist who works in Kuusamo and Helsinki. His work focuses on the relationship between plants and humans, plant behavior and autonomy. He is also interested in the past and the evolution of things and creatures. Since 2011, his works have been on display in galleries and museums in both Finland and abroad. Linna earned a Bachelor of Culture and Arts degree in 2013 and a Master of Arts degree from the Aalto University Visual Cultures, Curating and Contemporary Art (ViCCA) program in 2018.

Lauri Linna’s work has been supported by:
Finnish Cultural Foundation, Olga and Vilho Linnamo Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike), City of Kuusamo and U. A. Virranniemi Fund

Fri 05 Jan 2024 – 28 Jan 2024 12:00 – 18:00


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Panimokatu 1, Kalasatama