This performance for the camera was created on Lake Mekri (Mekrijärvi) near Ilomantsi, Finland inspired by the creation myth described in canto 1 of the Finnish epic poem, The Kalevala. The figure represents Ilmatar, the water mother/air maiden who plays an important role in the creation myth in the first canto of the 'New Kalevala'. The three ladders allude to the tripartite earthly/cosmic symbolism in the ancient rune poems of Karelia, the cultural area at the border of Finland and Russia. The birch itself, a tree associated with lamentation in old Karelia, comprises the ladders, standing as yet another archetypal symbol: the world tree. Connecting physical existence and body with the celestial domains, the world tree is traversed by the ‘traveler’ as a conduit between the worlds, a means to re-member our seemingly disparate origins and place in both the 'mixture of mud and water' of the earth and the 'beautiful and comely stars of heaven…'

Video performance, sculptural set, audio track and post-production work by Cherie Sampson. Thanks to: Laura Jetsu, Mekrijärvi Research Station staff, Ilomantsi. Papu Pirtola; Yrjö Sepänmaa and the University of Eastern Finland. (Traditional tune and lyrics, arrangement and vocals by Cherie Sampson. Performance piece for the stage originally designed in collaboration with Deanne Warnholtz-Wortman in the U.S.)

Excerpts from Canto 1 of The Kalevala:
(chanted in Finnish in the video)
Keith Bosley translation, Oxford's World Classics

So then the water-mother,
water-mother, air maiden
raised her knee out of the sea
her shoulder blade from the wave
for the duck a nesting place
somewhere nice to live.

That duck, the straight-flying bird
glides and hovers; it
found the water mother’s knee
on the bluish sea;
thought it was a grass hummock
a heap of fresh turf.

It flutters, it glides
it settles on the kneecap.
There it builds its nest
laid its golden eggs-
six eggs all of gold
an iron egg the seventh.

It began to hatch the eggs
to warm the kneecap.
It hatched a day, another
Soon it hatched a third as well.
At that the water mother
water mother, air maiden
feels she is burning
her skin smouldering;
she thought her knee was ablaze
all her sinews were melting.

And she jerked her knee
and she shook her limbs:
the eggs rolled in the water
into the sea-wave are driven;
the eggs smashed to bits
broke into pieces.

The eggs do not end up in the mud
the fragments in the water.
The bits changed and became good
and the pieces became fair:
the lower half of an egg
became mother earth below
the upper half of an egg
became heaven above;
the upper half of the yolk
became the sun for shining
the upper half of the white
became the moon for gleaming
the mottled parts of an egg
became the stars in the sky
the blackish parts of an egg
became the clouds of the air.

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