Grey Logs (2019) is an alternative art-archaeological documentation of the Second World War German military occupation sites in Finnish Lapland as well as dance research focusing on the story of dancer Elsa Puolanne (1906-1996). In the summer of 1944 the Puolanne Group performed for German and Austrian soldiers in the northern landscapes. Due to the lack of archival footage or eye witness accounts, the Grey Logs film explores an alternative archaeology. To reinterpret the slowly decomposing prisoner of war camps in Lapland, it combines dance, Nazi drawings, and artifacts. The film investigates lasting impacts of the war and the possibility of reaching memories of 'others'.
The German military occupation sites were researched through various movement practices, mostly with improvisation and loosely structured movement tasks. The objectives of the movement practices were not to target the absent historical events or to serve as an accurate repetition of a historical event; rather the objectives were to intensify the importance of what was present at the Second World War sites: rocks, mosquitoes, the summer night, the sound of rain, the smell of the moist bryophyte, swamps close to the sites, old trees...
The movement practices carried out at the Second World War sites helped tune the body to another level of consciousness where intuition and corporeal listening targeted the tacit dimensions of the body, dimensions that are crucial if we aim to return to the importance of the direct experiences and non-discursive dimensions in the self. At the sites, the trust in intuitive guidance helped open up a wide range of sensory experiences with the sites, and enabled the the dancer and film makers to notice other crucial moving and interpreting agents, such as trees, stones, mushrooms, ghosts, reindeer, insects, birds, and plants. These sensuous practices enabled the project team to speculate what various possible material experiences that Elsa Puolanne felt while working as a performer in Lapland in 1944; the practices opened possibilities for assembling an unanticipated experience of an historical event.
Written and directed by Pieter-Jan Van Damme and Suvi Tuominen
Filmed by Pieter-Jan Van Damme
Dance and choreography by Suvi Tuominen
Sound design and mix by Tony Sikström
Music by Rosita Serrano O'Manulea (1939)
Supported by Arts Promotion Centre Lapland
Special thanks to Vesa-Pekka Herva, Oula Seitsonen, Anne Makkonen, Essi Ruuskanen, Heikki ja Eeva Peltola and Lapland's Dark Heritage project
For history of the musical choice, see: