Rovaniemi Urban Project

Rovaniemi Urban Project


It was in the year 2006 when Rovaniemi due to administrative reasons merged with its surroundings (Rovaniemen maalaiskunta) and by that act happened to be the largest European city by area, some five times larger than London.

I tried to articulate the paradoxical legal existence of this city which is everything but a bustling metropolis (as its size would suggest). On the contrary the most of its area is covered by uninhabited (by humans) forests. I travelled to Rovaniemi from Helsinki some 800km by train and visited its most northern, southern, eastern and western borders. On each of those places „in the middle of nowhere“ I took a few photographies of myself (respectively my colleague Jolijn de Wolf who travelled with me did).
My travel was difficult (note the piece was executed in February, so in the middle of the Finnish winter), expensive and with the result of only a couple of blurry analogue pictures. The absurdity of my physical visit of the artificial and immaterial city borders was important part of the project. I tried to establish a contact with the place by „articulating“ its specific features.

The city of Rovaniemi in its current legal scale exists more in the imagination of its creators than in the physical reality. Which borders matter more? The physical, natural ones or those created by and subjugated to the law? Can the world’s absurdity be resisted by an absurd art? The only remnants of this project are photographies from some snowy wilderness. Have I really been to Rovaniemi borders or did I manipulate the pictures, maybe created them some other time somewhere else or in Rovaniemi but not on the suggested places? My photographies are not any more real than the borders they represent.

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