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Lönnström Project 5

Survival Guide for a Post-Apocalyptic Child

Nastja Säde Rönkkö | 2021–2022

Survival Guide for a Post-Apocalyptic Child is an intensive and immersive multi-disciplinary artwork combining digital media, text, and participatory engagement. Its final form is a multi-channel video installation that was exhibited in Rauma from 22 October to 4 December 2022.

The videos are in English. You can read the original texts here.

The work imagines and dreams potential futures. Consisting of 26 individual videos, the work presents various perspectives on life in the middle of some major change: emotional and practical ways to survive catastrophes, upheavals or crises. Viewers are invited to immerse themselves in the themes by projecting them on their own emotions or contemporary global crises. How can we prepare for the unknown? What things would be worth preserving in such a situation? What knowledge and memories would we want to pass on to future generations? What would society be like after such an irreversible turning point?

The 26 videos are set in unspecified times and places. The lingering imagery reflects Nastja Säde Rönkkö’s poetic texts that take their cue from the alphabet. Each video starts with a set of words beginning with a particular letter that lead the viewer into a piece comprised of text, images and sound. The texts range in style from gentle expressions of love to depictions of survival in a post-apocalyptic age, familiar from science fiction films or literature. Filled with longing for past experiences, events and people, the videos also feature concrete survival information, such as advice on nutrition or medicine.

In autumn 2021, sections of the videos were shot in the Teresia and Rafael Lönnström Home Museum in Rauma and in the factory that serves as the venue for the exhibition. The actors were all young local talents. Footage was also filmed elsewhere in Finland and for a large part in Spain. Nastja Säde Rönkkö worked with many professionals, such as Aake Kivalo (cinematography), Timo Kaukolampi (music and sound), Heli Kota (editing) and Juha Vehmaanperä (clothing and styling). Actors include theatre enthusiasts and professionals, with Elsi Sloan, Sall Lam Toro and Rosaliina Paavilainen, among others.

Rönkkö’s work was presented in an empty section of the Kaivopuisto industrial area in Rauma. The buildings in the area belonged formerly to the Lönnström Group. The two-storey hall used to serve as staff quarters. Having stood unused for a long time, the space with its old washrooms provided the installation with a unique setting that supports the content of the videos

Nastja Säde Rönkkö (b. 1985) is an award-winning visual artist based in Helsinki. She works with a wide range of mediums, including new media, performance, community art, and text. She has exhibited her work in solo and group exhibitions in Finland and internationally. In 2019 Rönkkö was elected Young Artist of the Year in Finland. In June 2022, she was awarded the Below Zero art prize organised by Beaconsfield Gallery, Serlachius Museums and the Finnish Institute in Britain and Ireland. Rönkkö will use to the prize to create her next moving image installation in 2023.

See the original texts for video

In cooperation with

KKOY Rauman Kaivopuisto, The Finnish Heritage Agency, BMH Technology, Finnish Institute in Madrid, Osuuskauppa Keula

Day camp for young people, 14–18 June 2021

Lönnström Art Museum organised a day camp for young people from 14–18 June 2021. The camp was part of the Lönnström Project Survival Guide for a Post-Apocalyptic Child, a joint production by the Lönnström Art Museum and artist Nastja Säde Rönkkö. The camp covered such topics as the future of the planet and survival skills in a crisis situation. Nastja Säde Rönkkö designed the content and served as the leader of the camp. The programme also included several thematic workshops given by visiting experts.

The first workshop was by climate educator and researcher Anna E. Lehtonen. She used discussion and drama to explore climate change and the emotions awakened by it. All sorts of emotions and key words associated with climate change came up in the discussions, such as fear, anxiety, frustration and exhaustion. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? The emotions were then explored through drama in the workshop; how would you express such feelings with your body? Where would you feel them? Would it feel like a stab in the chest, a pair of hands strangling you, or a heavy weight on your shoulders?

On the second day the theme was survival. Anna Kari, food expert from the Rural Women’s Advisory Organisation, ran a workshop at the museum on preparedness. She covered such topics as household resources and edible wild plants that are found in nature in Finland. Some of the participants screwed up their courage and tasted the dried dandelions Anna had brought with her. At first bite, they described the taste as nutty, but soon their expressions turned into a grimace. The aftertaste, we learned, was horrible beyond description. Fortunately, there were plenty of nettle waffles and tart rhubarb jam to cleanse the taste buds afterwards.

Led by wilderness guide Kati Granroth, the next two days focused on survival skills. On Wednesday, we visited Kati’s turf at Pinkjärvi in Eurajoki. On a forest hike, we practised map reading, how to use a compass, and how to make kindling. As the lean-to was leaking, we got to try our hand at building an emergency shelter using nothing but tarp and string. The exercise produced two very different models, which were named Pertti and Jalmari. Not even the armies of mosquitoes lurking in the forest could slow down the pace. Some people even began to plan a new excursion at the end of the trip!

On Thursday, Kati came to visit the museum, where we got to rehearse hiking etiquette and practise knot tying. Now which way did you have to turn the rope to make a bowline knot?

Nastja Säde Rönkkö’s own exercises had the end of the world as the main theme. Everything culminated on the last day, when camp participants got to apply the things they had learned to build a new society after the apocalypse. The process resulted in several performances and a guidebook. Would the world end in a solar storm or at the hands of man-eating unicorns? What things would need to be preserved from the old world? What values, laws or rules would the new society have? What skills would be considered useful? This world-building exercise was exceptionally popular, and the most enthusiastic groups even had time to consider new mythologies and legends: what was the fabled Coca-Cola and who possessed its secret recipe? One thing was certain: not a single future society would use dandelions as food.

Veera Virtanen
Camp instructor

The day camp was supported by the Satakunta Children’s Cultural Network.