Big Toe, Brain, Rock

Pia Lindman

Part story telling, part exercise and performance, Pia Lindman re-enacted some of her experiences while journeying in Sompio and around the lake Lokka, Finland, in her performance at KAI Art Center, Tallinn, November 23rd, 2019.

Lokka Subsensorial Performance
23.11.2019, starting at 15:41 (sunset)
KAI Art Center, Tallinn

introduction to performance

This is not a performance where I am separate from you. You can ask and comment while we are here. But I have a few stories I would like to tell. And then, if you are up to it, we can do something together.

I have no rational explanation to the events in these stories. And I do not lay claim, nor do I subscribe to, any religions or cosmologies. All I know is what I saw and felt and how this affected me. And through the passing of these events through my nervous system, consciousness, muscles, and tissues – these events are factual to me.  However, they are very intimate/personal and it is not easy to share them in public. So, please be gentle.

Some of these stories might evoke terror and horror. These are moments when my mind turns knowledge into flesh – it is almost like the opposite of rapture. Like a new fusion. So, I think they are ultimately an empowering of consciousness – something to become words and actions.

I am sorry if it hurts.

But it can be a good thing. Like a virus pushing for genetic change (Margaret McNail-Fall) or solar storms, spitting gene-altering quants into the Earth’s atmosphere and passing through everything of matter on the entire planet.

Initial Exercise

I ask everyone to form a circle,
so that they can grab each other’s hands at the end of the exercise

In your mind, draw a connection from your right big toe to your head. Find a spot in your brain that is in direct connection to your right big toe.

Maybe your big toe moves, just a little bit. That is ok.

Hold this connection. Build it. Does it have a color, thickness? Or some other quality or character?

Now, with your left hand, grab hold of the right hand thumb of the person next to you.
Interesting new connection!

Thumb, brain, big toe

Does the line look the same, or do the qualities change?

Watch them build. Shift, move.

Now, one more step.

Draw a connection from your right hand big toe, to your brain, to your left hand, the thumb you are holding, and from there to the right hand big toe of the person whose thumb you are holding.

Story 1
Diary note 11.07.19, PART 2

We met with Seppo Ervasti, a historian specialized in Kuusamo area. He told us that the sami culture in Kuusamo is a dead culture. The next night, I had a nightmare: I was driving home from Fiskars, a village in the South of Finland. As I approached a crossing and slowed down, I noticed a rugged pile of something to my left, in the ditch. I did not stop, did not recognise what it was. At the crossing, I stopped and noticed one more pile. There in the ditch, I saw strewn around body parts of a small dark-haired man. His chest was lying here. There I saw the back of his head.
The hair, very fine. Hands.

I made a U-turn and drove back to the office in the village – to report what I had seen. I found a secretary in the office, who called the police, and gave the receiver to me.

When I tried to put in words what I had seen, terror finally grabbed me. The words got stuck in my swelling throat, and what exited my mouth were grunts and bellows. It felt the most important thing to do, to verbalize, publish, this horror, loss, and crime. So that they would not lie there like trash.

With oil crayons, in front of the audience,
I make a drawing on the floor of the body parts I saw in the dream

Story 4
Diary notes 27.07.19
Tanhua, farm on Pessijoentie, River Luiro

I was looking for traces of the legend of the seven noidas in Sompio. The legend tells us that sometime in the 1640’s the noidas heard bishop Forbus’s sermon in Sodankylä: “those who remain true to the sami religion will burn in the fires of hell”. The noidas reckoned their time on Earth was over, spent their last night at the riverbed, singing joiks and drumming their sacred drums. The next morning they were found lying on the river bed, “with their feet in the water”. They allegedly had killed themselves.

I draw a figure on the floor, lying with feet in the water

I go to a site in Tanhua, where eight sami graves had been unearthed in the early 1900’s. I do not find them and roam around the abandoned farm lost. An elderly lady, Raija, comes out of her cottage nearby and asks: Are you some kind of researcher from the Finnish Heritage Agency?

Raija then tells me:
“The boys from the National Land Survey office marked the heritage site in the wrong spot on the map. I know, because I worked all my life at the NLS. The right spot is just north of the barn. The grave of the noida, found in 1934, is behind that rock.”

The rock is only ten meters from the house, sweet grass (holy grass) grows all around it.
Raija tells me that she was the only child, and she always played on the rock because she “did not want to bother to go all the way under the trees”. The place “under the trees” – just north of the barn, where the graves had been unearthed.

I walk in under the trees, and become taken over by grief. I move over to the small plot of a formerly cultivated field. The wind sways the grass. I look at Raija. She belongs to this place, yet does not. Alone, way out here. Someone is protecting her. In the middle of these many layered histories, like several transparencies on top of each other. Soundless, boundless, midst mosquitoes and the wind.

The seven noidas are not here.

Stone Exercise
I point at a pail on the floor in front of the audience
filled with stones I brought to the performance
 from right outside
from the shore of the Finnish Bay here in Tallinn.

Select a stone from this pile.

Take it into your hand.

Gently press it. Use as little muscle force as possible. Inside your head, where do you sense the pressing?

Feel the gravity pull the stone towards the earth. How heavy is it? Feel how you can hold the stone back from being pulled. How strong you are. And again, feel the gravity pulling the stone.

Where is your stone from?

Look at it, zoom in on it, go inside it.

Can you see feel the different matters inside the stone, with different densities and molecular structures, different charges. First, they were all gases and liquids. A melted mess. Then they started to stiffen and crystallize, some better some not. Thrown and thrust amongst each other, meddling and melting into each other, and sometimes separating. Can you feel those tensions in amongst them?

Or maybe you can sense the microbes, bacteria, and protozoa sizzling around in the miniscule cavities inside and in between the masses turned stone.

Or maybe you see figures, beings, faces?

The same molten stone mass spread across this entire continent. On the shores of the Baltic sea, across the Finnish Bay, from the coasts going north, all the way to Svalbard, and to the north West to Iceland where the American and European tectonic plates meet, to the north East where Finnish granite drop into the Russian taiga. Or is it the other way around…?

The stone rides its waves on the Norwegian mountains and up to Kola peninsula, the tundra and hills in Finnish Lapland, turns into rivers that run through the swamps and lakes in Sompio, the land of the last forest sami. Some stones sink to the bottoms of these lakes and rivers, some go underwater as late as in 1975 when the artificial lake Lokka is created by damming the river Luiro. Others press on, just like the Cesium that plumed in billowing clouds from Chernobyl and rained down into the lakes and rivers of Lapland.

(A black rain, the ash damp, sunk heavy into the waters and reached the bottom. Slowly, ever so slowly the flows carried the Cesium along the rivers south, to finally after decades reach the Finnish Bay. Now lies there in the mud, radiates, radiates.)

Feel the stone between your fingers, in your hand.
Feel the gravity, its inner tensions.
Does it feel good, or does it hurt?
Do you feel sparks or does it perhaps tickle?

Can you feel the stone tuned the same as the stone in the tundra, or in the bottom of the Lake Lokka?

Does the stone call across this vast tectonic plate? Can you make the connection like you did with your big toe?

Your big toe, your brain, your hand holding the stone, the stone connected to the stones in the Baltic sea right in front of you stretching far into the tundra and even the north pole – and all the stones in this mass of stone that we have stood on, stand on right now and will, always.

Related Material


Tinna Grétarsdóttir and Sigurjón Baldur Hafsteinsson

Untitled. 2016. Ásmundur Ásmundsson, Hannes Lárusson and Tinna Grétarsdóttir
“Humans are like insects that are transformed from one state to another in their evolutionary process. Some transform by going through other animals.” – Halldór Laxnes

Bjerde, Grétarsdottir, Hafsteinsson, Silis Hoeg, Kielsen Holm, Lindman, Myrup, Suominen, Tenetz, Vold

Blue West NATO base, Marraq, Greenland. Photo credit: Matti Tanskanen
Excursion Greenland: Melting ice reveals old NATO base camps and toxic waste flow into melted water. IMAGE: Blue West NATO base, Marraq, Greenland. Photo credit: Matti Tanskanen
Blue West NATO base, Marraq, Greenland. Photo credit: Matti Tanskanen

Join our mailing list

Get updates on our journey, new letters and umcoming workshops.