BY: JESSICA BEUKER
Driving down Highway 5 in Suomussalmi, Finland you’ll come across a field where thousands of people appear to be standing still. But this motionless army is not a group of people at all, but thousands of scarecrow figures fashioned with straw hair and colourful clothing. The area arouses much curiosity from passersby. How did these figures get here?
The ‘Silent People’ are the work of artist Reijo Kela. They appeared for the first time in 1988 in Lassila’s field in Helsinki, and in 1994 moved to the Market Place of Helsinki’s Senate Square. Soon after, they appeared along the banks of the Jalonuoma River, before finding a permanent home on Highway 5.
According to the Suomussalmi website, the Suomussalmi Youth Workshop makes and clothes the figures; the clothing is changed twice a year.
There is much speculation about why and how the Silent People came to be, but they will likely remain a mystery as the artist refuses to answer any questions about the origins of the installation, and instead hopes that people will come up with their own interpretation.