1998 - Cherie Sampson

Cherie Sampson

Fulbright Fellow 1998

As I write this short memoir, I sit at my desk in my apartment overlooking the lake at Mekrijärvi Research Station in North Karelia. Ten years ago exactly I was a guest in this very place while I was working on an art installation for the 3rd International Conference on Environmental Aesthetics, “The Aesthetics of Bogs & Peatlands” organized by Professor Yrjö Sepänmaa at the University of Joensuu. 1998 was my Fulbright year in Finland, when I did research on traditional wood art and architecture of the Finns and Sami. I have returned here – to Finland and to Mekrijärvi, a decade later, to do research on a performance project for the final conference in the series. “Celestial Aesthetics, The Aesthetics of Sky, Space and Heaven” will take place at Valamo Monastery in March of 2009. How time does move cyclically…

Other than some new buildings (a smoke sauna and an important new laboratory for experimental ecology), Mekri is just as I remember it, with many of the same welcoming and helpful staff members. I did get a little lost last evening looking for the head of the trail to the nearby mire from the research station grounds, but found the trail by way of an alternate route on a bicycle. It was even more beautiful than I remembered – presently with the delicate cotton grasses in bloom. In a short while I will bicycle to Puohtiinsuo, where some of the artistic exhibitions from the 1998 conference program took place (and where I made my installation and performance). I wonder what it is like ten years later…will it be recognizable to me? Will I find the site where I made my installation of willow? Will I remember where to step and where not to step in the mysterious mire landscape…?


Watch Cherie's performance video "At the Pole of Heaven".