The Living Language community art project has introduced comics as a means of supporting endangered Finno-Ugric languages. We hold workshops to teach language activists how to draw comics and use them in their work. Our comics community brings together journalists, teachers, NGO activists, and cultural workers from libraries and museums who have been drawing comics in their own languages in Udmurtia, Mari El, Komi-Permyak, Komi Republic, Khanty-Mansia, Mordovia and Leningrad Oblast in Russia, and in Setomaa in Estonia. We have also organised workshops for Karelian language speakers in the Karelian Republic, Tver and Finland and for Sámi speakers in Russia, Finland and Norway.
Our journey together started with workshops in Petrozavodsk, Karelia in 2015. The expedition team consists of comics artist Sanna Hukkanen (Finland), linguist Anna Voronkova (Russia) and community educator Katri Silvonen (Finland). The real heroes of the story are local minority language activists who tirelessly keep fighting for cultural diversity of the world by drawing comics about their lives, history and mythological stories in their own language. Their comics have been displayed extensively in exhibitions, distributed as booklets and postcards and published on social media and in local newspapers.
The exhibition continues its world tour during 2019 and we will soon release a book reproducing the best Finno-Ugric comics. Living Language is a project of the Finnish co-operative Myötävoima. The project is being funded by the Kone Foundation, Karelia Cultural Society, WSOY Literary Foundation and the Finnish Embassy in Moscow. We also cooperate with World Comics Finland and the KomMissia festival in Moscow, and of course with our many local partners in the Finno-Ugric world. We’d be glad to hear your comments and ideas. And we really hope to see our comics used in different events, exhibitions and non-commercial publications.