The Laboratory of Tradition

Anne-Mari Kivimäki
Publishing year: 


The Laboratory of Tradition
- #accordionposses

Anne-Mari Kivimäki 2018
University of the Arts Helsinki, Sibelius-Academy
MuTri Doctoral School
Folk Music Department
Artistic Doctorate

The focal point of this artistic doctoral dissertation is the accordionist and storyteller Ilja Kotikallio (1894-1961) from Suistamo. Through research on Kotikallio's personal history as well as archival tales recorded from him, the life of the parish municipality of Suistamo in Karelia (beyond the current Russian border) at the start of the 20th century is illuminated, especially the presence of accordion music in the Suistamo area. In addition to Kotikallio's personal history, the dissertation includes discussion and broader contextualisation of the artistic concerts included in the doctoral work, the concerts in the Suistamo series, and the results of the research.

The central concept in this dissertation is the Laboratory of Tradition, which was born during artistic research as a tool for combining tradition and an artist's curiosity with new accordion trance compositions. The foundations of The Laboratory of Tradition are the Russian Notka accordion, Ilja Kotikallio, and the teams involved in the artistic concerts. These teams received the name accordion posses during the dissertation process. Fieldwork and preparations for the concerts brought the teams together and a concept for belonging to the team was born among the artists: accordionposses.

Field trips are one of the most important research methods in The Laboratory of Tradition: they take the dissertation towards the real Suistamo and, with the help of artistic multidisciplinarity, continue towards an imagined Suistamo. In this dissertation, Kotikallio's stories are combined with music, photographs, film, comics, dance and theatre. Artistic multidisciplinarity enables the creation of new teams and with them, entire art experiences. The Laboratory of Tradition creates new visions of Karelia, and the concerts in the Suistamo series, with their visuality and music, act as a display window for the images that arise.

This dissertation utilises especially microhistory, ethnography, and imaginary field trips for the analysis of the research material and the work with the archival material. With the help of these methods it is analysed how the artistic work has been performed in dialogue with the archival material. The dissertation discusses the longing for Karelia, being an evacuee, the accordion's infamy as the devil's instrument, the performing of unusual folk music and dance, and the conversations on refugees appearing in 2015, which reflected into the dissertation and brought up interesting conversations during the research process. The artistic research in this dissertation opens up a path to understanding Suistamo and how archival stories and music can inspire one to explore the Karelian accordion tradition, the secret of the karmuuni (i.e. one-row accordion), and the life of Ilja Kotikallio.

This dissertation makes a significant contribution by elevating the Karelian accordion from the archives to stand alongside the kantele and runo singing. With the artistic research in this dissertation, Karelian accordion music has also been continued, developed, and brought before audiences in the doctoral degree's five concerts.

Keywords: Notka accordion, The Laboratory of Tradition, folk music, folk dance, Ilja Kotikallio, photograph, comic, silent film, artistic multidisciplinarity, Suistamo, Karelia

© 2018 Anne-Mari Kivimäki
Kustantaja: Kihtinäjärvi Records 2018
Paino: BoD - Books on Demand, Norderstedt, Saksa
Kansi: Paula Susitaival
Etukannen valokuva: Eero Grundström
Takakannen valokuva: Kotikallion perhealbumi
Taitto: Timo Väänänen / Maanite
Tutkielman ohjaaja: Petri Hoppu
ISBN 978-952-94-0235-9 (sid.)
ISBN 978-952-94-0235-6 (PDF)
ISSN 2242-8054
EST 42 | Sibelius-Akatemian kansanmusiikkijulkaisuja 30