When you think of Finland, what do you picture in your mind’s eye? Perhaps you leap to snow capped trees and mesmerising streaks of colour amongst the stars overhead. Perhaps you can envisage reindeer bolting past your headlights as you venture deeper into the woods in search of the warmth of your log cabin. Plunged into darkness for much of the year, it will perhaps come as little surprise that otherworldly stories emanate from these ancient Northern woodlands and have been circulating amongst the people there for many years.
“I’m from a small town in Northern Finland surrounded by a vast, sparsely populated wilderness. Most pass through the town on their way someplace else without ever knowing it was a hotspot for UFO sightings in the 1960’s.
Unaware of this history myself, it wasn’t until I read my grandfather’s book that I learnt of the incredible stories of supernatural events, bravery and struggle against hardship in what is largely a barren land. Already suffering from dementia, he was unable to answer any of the questions I had so I went looking for the answers. I turned to the people who saw the mysterious lights, to newspaper archives and my family’s photo albums from the era.
The UFO sightings coincided with a time of great struggle for Northern Finland. People flooded from the countryside to the cities in search of jobs leaving abandoned houses scattered across this beautiful but harsh landscape. It’s no wonder that the UFO sightings embodied a fear of the future, the unknown and the inexorable shift in lifestyles and livelihoods going on around them. Some reacted to the mysterious lights with fear, some took them as a sign they were not alone.”
– Maria Lax
In this, Maria Lax’s first series, we find the essence of the bewildering stories that had been relayed to her throughout her youth. Using newspaper cuttings, her late grandfather’s book, family archive as well as her own images, we find an immersive and enigmatic world filled with mystery.
Exhibited in the OD online exhibition The Road Trip, 2020