In the gallery Seek: Forests of the North Wind by Ritva Kovalainen & Sanni Seppo

The exhibition Forests of the North Wind by the artists Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo is exhibited in the gallery Seek of the Museum of Photography as the part of the nature theme program. A performance by the legendary Finnish accordionist and composer Kimmo Pohjonen added the festivity to the opening event. The exhibition is supported by the Finnish Institute in Estonia and Artproof. 

Ritva Kovalainen & Sanni Seppo, Thousand Years of the Scots Pine, 2022

Forests of the North Wind is the final part of a forest trilogy by two Finnish photographers Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo. The first two parts were Tree People (1997), an exploration into Finnish forest mythology, and Silvicultural Operations (2009), which highlighted the downsides of forestry.

The photographs in the exhibition were taken in protected areas. Only a few percent of Finnish forests are in their natural state, that is, untouched. The majority of Finnish forests have been transformed by intensive forestry into something fundamentally different from what they would be naturally. Numerous species cannot survive in the new conditions.

Natural forests are diverse spaces and states of being that sustain life and together with trees of different species and ages maintain biodiversity. Natural forests are biotic communities formed by thousands of plants, fungi, animals, protists and bacteria.  The enormous diversity of species is characteristic of the natural environment.

In forests, the presence of death and decay creates continuity and new life. Phenomena we may regard as destructive are in fact vital for the abundance of life and its endless cycles. Dead trees are the most important trees in any forest but, to enrich forest life, they must first be able to grow slowly and live long.

An old-growth forest is an important carbon reservoir. Thanks to their age and size, old trees are capable of binding a lot more carbon for a lot longer over their life cycle than trees logged at a young age in a commercial forest. Northern coniferous forests accumulate their largest carbon reservoirs in their soil. 

The exhibition urges us to recognise the difference between a natural forest and a commercial forest – to use modifier words when talking about forests, as our tendency to only talk generically about forests prevents us from seeing the true state of forest habitats.

Show time: from 16 of June to 31 October 2023

Ritva Kovalainen (b. 1959) is a photographic artist whose numerous books, short films and exhibitions are themed particularly on the human relationship with nature.

Sanni Seppo (b. 1960) is a photographic artist whose work speaks about people’s community action to defend their rights, their relationship with nature and their fragile dreams of living lives unique to themselves. She is also interested in opportunities for influence through photography and is the co-artistic director of the Festival of Political Photography.

Curator of the exhibition: Annika Haas

More information: and phone 56610694