Riikka Kuoppala works primarily with video and investigates memory and personal narrative within the wider context of historical events, seeking to understand subjects such as colonialism, violence and trauma.
In her installation And That’s All I Remember, Kuoppala traces the history of her grandparents, who were Christian missionaries in Namibia during the 1950s. The video follows the artist looking at the story of her grandmother Eila Plathan-Saarinen, a young doctor, focusing on the day of her sudden death in 1954. Looking to present a story in three dimensions and from multiple perspectives, the personal memories in the film intertwine testimonies with historical events. These stories address how missionary work, apartheid and colonialism supress rights to self-determination. Namibia had suffered genocide under German colonial rule at the beginning of the 20th century, and most of the population was converted to Protestantism primarily through German and Finnish missionaries. Half of the population still identifies as Lutheran today. Religious conversion, particularly the presence of Lutheranism in this case, can be identified as part of the chain of colonialism, as Finland itself identifies primarily as a Lutheran nation due to the historic colonialism by Sweden.
Riikka Kuoppala is based in Brussels.
Cinematography: Pekka Niskanen
Sound design: Valentine Gelin and Pierre George
Mix in situ: Sébastien Cabour
Colour grading: Baptiste Evrard
Programmation: Paul Guilbert
Production: Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains
Production support: AVEK, Oskar Öflund Foundation