Artist Statement

White Death

 

White Death is an installation-based work inspired by the life of the Finnish Winter War sniper, Simo Häyhä. Häyhä was a man of conflicting character traits. With this body of work I have sought to examine and juxtapose, in great detail, this range of traits—the everyman, the hunter, the soldier, the killer, the hero, etc—and the realities that he was faced with, such as the imminent threat of Russian occupation and the subsequent loss of land and home. Simo Häyhä became a Finnish war hero after he, as a sniper, killed 542 Russian soldiers in less than 100 days during the winter of 1939-1940, a “record” which has yet to be surpassed by any other sniper. During the war Häyhä was given the nickname White Death. At the end of this short war Häyhä sustained a bullet wound to his jaw, which left him with a permanently disfigured jawline, despite several surgical procedures. He would be defined by both this injury and his feat of war for the rest of his long life. After the war, Simo Häyhä lived on his own in a small community in Eastern Finland where he worked as a farmer & landowner. He never married.

 

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