Each element of the 1000 piece installation contains 35 tassels, handmade by a traditional Sami technique. Sami people are the indigenous people of what is now Norway, Sweden and Finland. Symbols are an important identifier in nomadic cultures, so the Sami duodji tradition – handicrafts that unites function and art – still has a significant and powerful effect today. Twelve other Sami women from across Scandinavia worked with Outi to create the 35,000 tassels needed for Falling Shawls.
In Sami tradition, the Northern Lights are seen as spirits of ancestors. Falling Shawls – hung high within the foyers of Royal Festival Hall – represents a ‘flock’ of spirits, the representation of humanity and people amongst nature.
Outi Pieski said: 'For me, Falling Shawls is about how very different our realities are from each other, even though we live in the same space and time. The installation is not one whole object, but many fragments you must see and feel. Falling Shawls is inspired by the gathering of Sami people, a nomadic monument that heals individuals in their common struggle against the background of history. Based on the Sami revitalisation movement Falling Shawls presents an empowering situation born out of duodji tradition.'
Outi Pieski is a Finnish-Sami visual artist from Utsjoki, the Sami area in northern Finland. In her work there is often a strong connection between nature and the local culture. Her work combines duodji and contemporary art to reopen conversations about the Sami people within Nordic discourse.