Thursday 27 April 2017

Poetic Archaeology @ the 8th International Conference on Artistic Research

So looking forward to this presentation with Jan Martti Kaila on Saturday in Helsinki, Finland.


After years of hard work in Hanko it´s finally time to start communicating the results of our endeavours and our reseach to the general public and the scientific community.

The title of the session "Across the Disciplines" really sums it all up. In "Poetic Archaeology" Jan Martti Kaila, Japo Knuutila and I  are looking at the similarities (and boundaries) between photographic art, photographic reasearch and the conflict archaeology of a German WW2 transition camp in Hanko S. Finland.

Conflict archaeology excavation in progress.

Japo Knuutila has been of central importance to the project since the start. Below are some of his wonderful pictures of glass and porcellain objects from the excavations of the German WW2 (1942-1944) transition camp.

The cleaning of the items before photography was an interesting process in itself. During the several month long work of cleaning the excavation finds I  was extra careful not to "overclean" the fragile artefacts  thus leaving the patina and wear visible to the camera eye as well as future scientific chemical and other analysis of the finds.

Thursday 20 April 2017

These WW2 helmets lay forgotten for decades in Hämeenlinna

There they lay, tens and tens of discarded WW2 helmets including a Swedish M21/M26, an Italian M33, a Czech M34, a Sovjet M40 and a Sovjet M36... All dumped on the site by the Finnish Defence Forces after WW2 (possibly in the 1960´s?).

WW2 helmet dump in Hämeenlinna prior to the Easter holidays. Photo Iisakki Kiemunki.

As news about the helmets leaked out in the social media people rushed to the site each to collect their own part of WW2 history.

Helmets and more helmets. Photo Iisakki Kiemunki.

While some visitors settled for one helmet others carried away as many as they possibly could. According to an eyewitness there was something of a queue to the area on Saturday. Some of the looters "proudly" showed off their salvaged finds on the metal detecting forum "Aarremaanalla" (Treasure below ground).

"Salvaged" helmets and the finder hiding behind a local newspaper.

On Sunday when I finally got to the site it was a complete mess. Someone even had tried (and managed) to dig a hole in the frozen ground, revealing (and breaking) even more helmets. Car tyre tracks on the site completed the sad sight.

Dug (?) helmets, before beeing loaded into an awaiting car. Photo by unknown.

According to interviews made by the Finnish National Broadcasting network (YLE) the area might be the same that was used for storing captured and discarded materiel during the period 1941-1944.
After 1945 most of the helmets were sold for scrap metal value or remade into kettles etc...

The same area in 1942. Photo SA-kuva.

After my visit to the site on Sunday April 16th I felt that the site might well be worth an archaeological excavation too see what the area is all about. Let´s see if somethingcould be arranged here with the help of some local institutions. Still a valid question remains, what to do with the finds? Before that question is settled the unhindered looting goes on and that makes me really really sad...