Anna Kirveennummi: Inspiring Encounters Occur at the Saari Residence

Researcher and coordinator Anna Kirveennummi is connected to the former croft of the Saari Manor by her name. But Kirveennummi watches for signs of the future instead of history, and observes people’s everyday lives in social media, for example, through the lens of an ethnographer.
Photo: Sami Kilpiö

Anna Kirveennummi is already attached to the Saari Residence by her name. Her surname hails from the Kirveennummi estate, one of the former crofts of the Saari Manor. Although the name might seem like an omen, Kirveennummi ended up on the residence’s advisory board in 2007 through her job.

“I have worked as a futurologist in the countryside and in the domain of culture. Furthermore, out of an old ethnologist’s habit I observe the activity of villages through the lens of a field researcher,” tells Kirveennummi.

A futurologist is intrigued by transformations. Nevertheless, attention is often shifted towards the past.

At the Saari Residence, it is often necessary to examine things in the long run.

“Working on the advisory board has made me think a lot about values and follow how they are taken into practice. It has been educational to see how new things to do arise between the residence and its neighbourhood.”

The residence provides a different pair of lenses to the excavator driver

As a researcher, Kirveennummi is interested in the influence that the residence has on the surrounding area and its residents. Something that often comes up in encounters with the residents of Mynämäki, is how the residence’s guests appear on the village roads and in the everyday life of the municipality. Perhaps art also gains new meanings, and everyday life along with it.

“I want to believe that through the works of the resident’s inhabitants, people can also see their own daily life and environment in different ways to before,” Kirveennummi says.

This has been proven to have probably happened at least once before. Kirveennummi recounts of hearing about an excavator driver, who helped a Japanese artist living at the Saari Residence with making an environmental work of art. The artist’s piece required placing large boulders in a very precise order on the grounds of the residence. The next time the same excavator driver was called for just an ordinary yard job, on arrival the driver had half-jokingly asked: “what order do you want these rocks to be placed this time?”

“The rocks really just had to be moved out of the way since the yard was being renovated,” Kirveennummi laughs.

In the researcher’s opinion, the story exemplifies the potential power that art has at its best.

“I think it would be really great to think that as a future possibility, one could really become more deeply sensitive to the idea that the order of rocks can carry its own message. Wonderful, if it were occasionally because of the artists at the Saari Residence,” she continues.

Art is at its best when it is made accessible to everyone. Fortunately, according to Kirveennummi, you can come across the aesthetics of daily life in many places. Fields, for example, are often the environmental art of cultural scenery.

Super encounters

Employed at the University of Turku, Kirveennummi is an urbanite for whom the small scale, nature, and quiet of the countryside speak to.

“This probably sounds like a typical city dweller’s attitude, but when admiring the openness of the countryside, one doesn’t always remember to consider the amount of work behind the scenery,” the researcher admits.

Different kinds of spaces and places, contradictions and tensions have always interested Kirveennummi. Various spaces generate various types of encounters, after all.

“The traditional idea is that people have more profound encounters in the countryside than in bustling cities. But on the other hand the countryside has always had its own hurries, and summer vacationers from the city have been considered the epitome of idleness in these areas,” Kirveennummi contemplates.

She jokingly describes the encounters taking place at the Saari Residence, in the midst of nature, as super encounters. Every group of residents form their own habits during two months, and it is always a bit of a surprise to discover what shape the residency time takes.

“After all, it is quite wild to spend two months in the same place with the same group of people. Very intensive.”

The encounters that leave an impression on Kirveennummi most commonly occur in completely everyday places: at the coffee table, at lunch, in the store. Their randomness is alluring. Someone might suddenly say something, which leaves an indelible imprint.

“Most important in encounters is mutual respect. When that exists, the state of encountering is one step closer.”

 

Encounters arise… always, in spite of everything.

Encounters do not arise, when… people’s hurries separate them from each other.

The most significant encounter in my life… has last happened in books, and that way inside my own head.

BIO

Anna Kirveennummi, 52, futurologist and ethnologist at the University of Turku.

Lives in Turku with her 14-year-old son.

In her free time she writes her thesis, reads, and busies herself at home.