Icy prospects

8 October 2010 | This 'n' that

Jorma Puranen: Juovlajohka, Norway, 1997

Photographer Jorma Puranen (born 1951) has long been concerned with nature and the representation of northern landscapes, particularly Lapland, as well as light and its reflection.

One of his most famous projects is Imaginary Homecoming. In the 1990s, on a visit in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris, he found some old archive boxes full of glass negatives. They were ethnographical images of the Sámi, taken by G. Roche, employed by the French Count Bonaparte on an expedition to Lapland in 1884.

Puranen took them back to the wildernesses of Lapland and photographed them once more in their native surroundings, where they became a photographic installation in the tundra. He published them in his book Kuvitteellinen kotiinpaluu / Imaginary Homecoming (Pohjoinen, 1999).

Puranen’s 2006 series Icy Prospects explores landscape: the large pictures are made by painting wood with black gloss paint, reflecting the landscape on the wood and photographing the reflection.

Snow, ice, water, sky and trees are portrayed the way that brings Impressionism to mind, as Liz Wells writes in her introduction in the book entitled Icy Prospects, published by Hatje Cantz (Germany, 2009).

Jorma Puranen: Icy Prospects (series, 2006)

A new exhibition of Jorma Puranen’s work from 1992 to 2010, at EMMA, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art, opened on 29 September; it runs until 9 January 2011. Partly retrospective, it features Puranen’s techniques of chromogenic colour and black and white photography, showcasing his highly original style.

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