–ARCHIPELAGO OF OTHER KNOWLEDGES
"The peppered moth (Biston betularia), so named for the dense freckling of black across its white wings, is a curious creature. During the industrial revolution, its numbers exploded because it was better camouflaged on newly soot-darkened birch trees, typifying a form of adaptation known as “industrial melanism.” I first encountered the insect on the island Vallisaari, a military fort turned state park off the coast of Helsinki, where I sat for a tarot reading with the Finnish artist and filmmaker Lotta Petronella. In her custom-made deck, the peppered moth – the “5” card – plays the role of the hierophant, or the giver of embodied and intellectual wisdom, whose evolution suggests a survival strategy for humans struggling to adapt to 21st-century climate crisis."
SPIKE ART MAGAZINE ︎︎
Sustainable (Art) World-Making at the Helsinki Biennial–
"Materia Medica of Islands (2023) by Lotta Petronella—an artist, medicine and flower essence maker and tarot scholar—is one of the site-sensitive artworks anchored in the island’s offerings. Her contribution, for which she collaborated with chef and foraging pioneer Sami Tallberg and composer and performer Lau Nau, presents a cosmology of the island through a transdisciplinary artwork. Inspired by early-20th-century activist Ilma Lindgren, who fought for the right to roam and forage in the wild, it includes an apothecary with local medicinal plants displayed in a shed alongside miscellaneous objects, drawings, embroideries and sound recordings. An additional source of inspiration comes from moths, which have been subjects of study on Vallisaari Island since the 1960s, serving as important indicators for monitoring climate change. In Petronella’s artwork, various types of these ephemeral nocturnal pollinators adorn a tarot deck made by the artist, offering spiritual guidance to visitors while also symbolizing the fragile vitality of the ecosystem."
BERLIN ART WEEK ︎︎
–Helsinki Biennial 2023: New Directions May Emerge
"... before boarding the return ferry to Helsinki, I come across probably my favourite installation, the site-specific and durational work Materia Medica of Islands (2023). Inside an ageing wooden shed, the artists Lotta Petronella and Lau Nau along with Sami Tallberg, a Finnish chef celebrated for conjuring up delicious dishes from foraging expeditions, have laid out for us a presentation that speaks of close attention to nature, to plants and animals, and expertise in deploying their benefits. Dried flowers and herbs gathered locally hang on the walls, while some are bottled and presented in their medicinal forms, along with herbal tinctures. Portraits of the island’s moths and butterflies have been embroidered and combined with poems in their honour. The installation is in memory of Ilma Lindgren, who secured the people the right to roam and forage across Finland. Sound works include a lamenting choir and nightly recordings of moths, and many live events are planned for the duration of the biennial."
STUDIO INTERNATIONAL ︎︎
–Helsinki Biennial 2023 explores new horizons
"Searching: a more desperate pursuit than the poetry of ‘noticing’. For artist Lotta Petronella, based on Ruissalo island in the Turku archipelago, to search is to forage – and she dedicates her Vallisaari ‘apothecary’ to Ilma Lindgreen: the woman who fought and won for the right to roam and forage in Finland in 1914."
–Helsinki Biennaali kokoaa huipputaidetta jo toistamiseen
"Vanhaa apteekkia muistuttavassa installaatiossa on esillä Petronellan saarilta keräämiä lääkekasveja sekä -yrttejä. Lisäksi kuullaan yöperhosäänitteitä sekä kuorolaulua."
–Positive contamination: on this year’s Helsinki Biennale
"Here, healing singing and nutrition create a dialogue with the flora and fauna of Vallisaari. The pharmacy is created in the footsteps of Ilma Lindgreen, who in 1914 began a fight for equal rights to roam and forage freely in Finlands forests. This legal battle took years but resulted in implication of ‘every mans right’, a right for free personal use of nature. The pharmacy is filled with extractions of the plants found on Vallisaari, many of which have been brought on by Russian soldiers during their time on the island. Alongside these plants, there’s some hundred moths that are a part of the island’s unique nature, here displayed as tarot-cards. The space is athmosphered by a choir of laments, done in collaboration with Lou Nou, that give the space a historic, almost otherworldly feel."
–Review: SJÄLÖ-Island of Souls (2020)
"Island of Souls is part visual poem, party history lesson and part melancholy memorial to the women whose life stories have been lost in the fog of time. Arriving on Själö across an icy sea, the director begins to draw subtle parallels between the detached, scientific manner in the current biological team catalogue ticks and the way in which human inmates were once monitored on the island.
Petronella approaches her multi-layered subject in an elliptical manner, switching fluidly between different moods, themes and time periods. Strikingly beautiful close-up shots of beetles, frogs, plants and microscopic creatures form a wondrous background chorus of fertile nature. "
–Lyssna, filma, förstå, Lotta Petronella och Själö
"Själö är en stillsam och vacker film som utgår från öns historia och natur. På Själö fanns redan under 1600-talet ett sjukhus för spetälskepatienter, och under 1700-talet började sjukhuset gradvis förvandlas till ett mentalhospital. Sjukhuset stängde på 1960-talet, och strax efteråt öppnade Åbo universitet en biologisk forskningsstation på ön. Numera studerar forskarna bland annat fästingar."