In Lapland, Finland lives an indigenous community of Sámi people. Sámi people are Europe’s only indigenous community and they live in the most northern parts of Northern Europe: Finland, Sweden, Norway, and Russia. It is estimated that there are in total over 90,000 Sámi people and over 9,000 of them in Finland.

In our minds, we might visualize an indigenous community through the lens that museums and books give us. However, this image is often outdated and only an old black-and-white version of indigenous community from the past. That is why it is pertinent to ask: what is it like to be an indigenous person in the twenty-first century, what does it mean to be part of the Sámi community in Finland, and what does it mean to be a Sámi person nowadays?

Underneath Us is a project focused on the testimonies of Sámi people. Its main objective is to break stereotypes by presenting what it means to be a Sámi person today and showing how discrimination persists in Finland and other Scandinavian countries where Sámi people live.

In the project, Anni Guttorm and Päivi Magga, Sámi women, share how they live their everyday lives. They explain that even though they were born in a developed country, they still experience stereotypes, social stigmas, and prejudices based on the lack of information about them in Finnish education. The women also show us what their identity is built on by inviting us to be part of their traditions, proving that to be a Sámi person is much more than just wearing traditional clothes: Sámi can be found underneath, inside their hearts.

How to View Underneath Us

During the day, Underneath Us can be viewed on monitors inside the ICP Museum and during evening hours, images are literally “projected” onto the windows of the ICP Museum; they can be viewed from the sidewalk outside the Museum and are most visible after sunset. Learn more about Projected.

About the Artist

Mónica Suárez Galindo is a Peruvian photographer based in Lima, Peru. She is currently working as a visual communicator for the United Nations Development Program in Peru and as an underwater photographer for her own brand, Momo Fotografía.

She studied fine art photography at Santa Fe University of Art and Design in New Mexico, United States and is a graduate of the communications and advertising program at the Peruvian University of Sciences Applied in Lima, Peru.

During missions with the United Nations in Peru, Suárez Galindo has developed a special interest in indigenous people. Therefore, inspired by their amazing stories and challenges that indigenous people face in the society, Suárez Galindo desires to explore indigenous people all over the world. Her works handles themes such as human rights, identity, and women’s empowerment.

Her photojournalism work has been published in United Nations digital media around the United States, France, and Peru. She has also been recognized for her underwater photography and her work has been published in magazines and press across American and Peruvian media. 

TOP IMAGE: © Mónica Suárez Galindo