MINE SONGS is a multimedia performance by Sara Pajunen for violin, sampled sound, and video that inhabits the altered landscape of Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range. @MineSongsMusic #MineSongsMusic


As a child, I was carted twice a week across Minnesota’s Mesabi Iron Range from Hibbing to Virginia and back, past Ironworld, the Mahoning pit, the Bruce Mine headframe, and piles and piles of overburden. This was and is the landscape that Iron Rangers (including my immigrant family) created and have inhabited for over 100 years. My parents transported me over and around this transformed terrain for violin lessons, but we always returned home to Hibbing, ‘the town that moved’ for ore excavation. Had it not been for the iron ore mining that dictated this landscape of 'home,' none of my family might be here - in Northern Minnesota - or the United States.

I left these pit lakes and constructed foothills at the age of 14, never having much considered the history of the region, what created the cultural and visual environment that I love. Now, decades later, I am embarking on a long-term project: to mine sounds from my childhood landscape and combine them with the violin I learned to play along this very same route. I will learn about the factors that made the region what it is today, and meditate on the future of our relationship with the earth - here on the Iron Range, and elsewhere.


Mine Songs intends to create a new lens, a lens that asks for reflection on the stories we tell ourselves (or have been told) about history, power, identity, agency. It is a project for the individual and the collective, for Minnesotans but for every person who craves possibility.