Sonja Siltala

The People of the Mountains and the Sea

Storgata 95

25. February 2008 - 6. April 2008

14:54
Mari Hildung

Sonja Siltala has been taking pictures of Kvens, or descendants of Finnish immigrants to ”Ruija” (North Norway), in Finnmark and Troms since 2001. Through her portraits, the photographer attempts to highlight the Kven culture through individuals. People we meet in the exhibition all reside in central Kven areas and have Kven as their mother tongue. Many earn their living in traditional occupations.

This has been a challenging, slowly progressing, occasionally icy – but, above all, interesting – adventure among people between the mountains and the sea ….

From the book The people of the Mountain and the Sea, published in conjunction with the photo project.

Sonja Siltala has used her personal network, along with a direct approach, to establish contact with Kvens. According to the photographer, these approaches have been greeted with friendliness and hospitality.


The artist herself calls her photos creative ethnographic documentarism. She studied photography at the renowned Helsinki School (the ”Konstindustriella Högskolan” in Helsinki). Siltala has lived and worked as a photographer in Vadsø since 2000. As a Finish immigrant, she felt it was only natural to familiarize herself with the artistic mentality through the Kvens themselves. Sonja Siltala uses only natural light when taking pictures. This is a technique that calls for great patience on behalf of photographer and subject alike; but the artist feels that people’s dignity is best safeguarded in this way. Sonja Siltala