A hundred years ago the photographer I.K. Inha (1865–1930) was asked to illustrate a tourist guide to Helsinki. He took some 200 photographs, of which some 60 were included in the book, which was published by WSOY in 1910. In his new book of photographs, OPS! Helsinki Polaroid¹, Martti Jämsä (born 1959), wanders the same streets a century on, taking snapshots with his Polaroid camera.
Inha’s glass negatives were stored in the publisher ‘s archives, where they remained until 2006, when they were moved to the Finnish Museum of Photography. Polaroid is now an obsolete piece of technology: the last examples were made by the American Polaroid Company in 2007. The familiar softness and fogginess of the details in Polaroid shots evoke a kind of nostalgia for the present.
Inha’s summery photographs, of a small but rapidly expanding town full of new buildings, offer a vivid portrait of life in what was then the Grand Duchy of Finland. His city studies were reprinted this year in Helsinki, valon kaupunki/ Helsingfors med I. K. Inhas ögon (‘Helsinki, city of light’)².
The two photographers occasionally choose the same vistas and subjects, looking at details of Helsinki from the same angles; the time and the methods are different, their worlds are worlds apart, but they offer fascinatingly dual readings of the city and its people.
OPS! Helsinki Polaroid
(Photographs by Martti Jämsä, an essay by Otso Kantokorpi, a poem by Ilpo Tiihonen; Musta Taide, 2009)
²Jukka Kukkonen – Riitta Toiviainen – Kjell Westö (ed.)
Helsinki – valon kaupunki / Helsingfors med I. K. Inhas ögon
(‘Helsinki – city of light’, WSOY, 2009, a publication of the Finnish Museum of Photography)
No comments for this entry yet