Fotonoviembre 2021

Gestures towards the self. Selection of finnish authors

Gestures towards the self. Selection of finnish authors

From November 7, 2015  to February 22, 2016
TEA Tenerife Espacio de las Artes Sala A2
C/ San Sebastián,10
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Tel: 922 849 090. Opening hours: Tuesday- Sunday  from 10:00 to 20:00 h




The earliest photography based portrayals of photographers themselves date back to the early steps of photography and its shaping contexts. One of the finest early portrayals of the self, and definitely one of the most haunting and peculiar ones, is from Hippolyte Bayard who was one of the originators of photography. However, at the time he was not celebrated as much as some of his colleagues. Following this, as a reaction of not being accorded the same kind of respect as Louis Daguerre, in 1840 Bayard pictured himself as a suicide victim in a photograph named Self Portrait as a Drowned man. In his studio, he undressed himself, wrapped only a light drape around his lower body, positioned himself in his chair playing dead and made a portrait of himself.

Bayard’s now 175-year-old photographic gesture could be contemporary, so fresh it appears in its style and approach. As an act of portrait making, it has had a great influence on self-portraits to come. In this beautiful picture, Bayard visualized his personal anxiety, vested his skill and tools for performing his disappointment and documented it photographically. This ability to carry multi-layered motives is in the central role in self-portraiture today.

The gestures towards the self  focuses on photographic performances by Finnish photographic artists as Elina Brotherus, Antti Laitinen, Aino Kannisto, Heli Rekula, Iiu Susiraja, Marja Helander, Kari Soinio, Marko Karo, Erica Nyholm y Harri Pälviranta. In the artworks included in the exhibition, artists’ bodies are treated as objects, tools and means to make art. Artists position themselves in staged or re-enacted settings, contexts that are playful and sometimes even humiliating. With this manner, the artists ask rather fundamental questions about the ethical issues, objectivity and documentary possibilities of self-portraiture. Often the artworks are both absurd and political at the same time: they may directly refer to body-political issues or questions of femininity or masculinity but simultaneously they express humanity and playfulness and make references to history of art and photography. They also underline the importance of nature to Finnish artists, whether understood as human nature or natural surroundings.

It is noteworthy that Finland has a very long and prosperous tradition of photographers photographing themselves. This tradition reached its golden era with women entering the photographic arts in the 1980s. Ever since photographic gestures towards the self has had a notable role in photographic arts in Finland.

Harri Pälviranta

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