The Silent People


The crowd of almost thousand figures that make up the Silent People suddenly emerges before the passing motorist like some great stroke of magic. In the morning with light behind them, this motionless army appears morose, even menacing. However, as the day progresses their countenance brightens up and with the setting of the sun they present a distincly jolly and colourful picture. When the wind blows their straw hair and clothes begin to flap rhythmically, it is as if they had suddenly sprung into life.

In the summertime there is a Niittykahvila Café, where you can have campfire coffee and pancakes.

Open daily in the summer 2018:
5.6.-17.6. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
18.6.-12.8. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
13.8.-2.9. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
In September 2018, weekends:
6.-9.9. 10. a.m.-5 p.m.
13.-16.9. 10 a.m.- 5 p.m.
20.-23.9. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

Approximately 30 km North on Highway 5 (E63) from the Suomussalmi Center.

East coordinate: 35 89 671
North coordinate: 72 23 266

Street address: Viitostie 547, 89600 Suomussalmi.

More information:
Kainuun Kuutamokeikat
Kiannonkatu 6
FIN-89600 Suomussalmi
Tel: Int. +358 (0)50 362 0609

The Story of the Silent People
Reijo Kela unveiled his peat-headed beings for the first time in his 1988 presentation ‘Ilmari’s Ploughed Field’ in Lassila’s Field. They reappeared later in Helsinki’s Senaatintori Market Place as part of the 1994 Kainuu Exhibition. 1200 Silent People had made the journey down to Helsinki but there was room for only 700 of them on the steps in front of the Cathedral. The presentation was erected during the night and over the proceeding two days created quite a stir in the Capital. The following night the Silent People were dismantled and sent back home to Suomussalmi.
The Silent People stood for the third time in characteristically implacable taciturnity on the shores of Jalonuoma in Ämmänsaari. The occasion was the daring 1994 presentation by Reijo Kela, Heikki Laitinen and various others of ‘The Bold and Beautiful, Wretches of the Shore’.
The Silent People moved to their present home in the autumn of 1994. The peat-heads have their clothing attended to twice a year; their heads come straight from the field, their clothes from organised collections. The Silent People are made and clothed by the Suomussalmi Youth Workshop, which also takes care of their maintenance.
People often ask what precisely is the idea behind the Silent People. A state of psychological withdrawal? The mute Kainuu soul? A forgotten people? Reijo Kela refuses to provide any answer. Viewers are free to come to their own conclusions. It may, however, be of interest to learn that if the Silent People were to be completely undressed there would remain some one thousand wooden crosses standing in the field.

Reijo Kela
Reijo Kela is a freelance dancer and choreographer born in Suomussalmi. His other significant works among others are Ilmari’s Ploughed Field (1988), City man (1989) and Sacrificial Flame (1998).