Tag: photography

Gustaf Mannerheim: Dagbok förd under min resa i Centralasien och Kina 1906–07–08 [Journal of my travels in Central Asia and China 1906–07–08]

11 February 2011 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Dagbok förd under min resa i Centralasien och Kina 1906–07–08, Vol 1–3
[Journal of my travels in Central Asia and China 1906–07–08, Vol. 1–3]
Redaktör [Edited by]: Harry Halén
Bildredaktör [Photo editor]: Peter Sandberg
Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 2010. 1,128 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-583-196-5 (complete set)
€ 80, hardback

Carl Gustaf Mannerheim (1867–1951), a Finnish officer in the Imperial Russian Army, later Commander-in-Chief of the Finnish Army and President of Finland, undertook a military reconnaissance mission, posing as an academic researcher, to Central Asia and China in 1906–1908. His journey on horseback across Asia to Peking also generated a wealth of ethnographic material: field notes, photographs and artefacts. In his travel diaries, Mannerheim describes the landscapes as well as his diverse encounters with the inhabitants of the areas he travelled through. During his visit to a Tibetan monastery, Mannerheim was pelted with stones by pilgrims. He gave the Dalai Lama an automatic pistol as a gift. These journals are now being published in full for the first time in their original language, Swedish, including Mannerheim’s own notes concerning his military mission. The photographs, some of which have never been published before, show that Mannerheim was a skilled photographer. Harry Halén, an expert in Central Asian languages and cultures, has contributed an extensive preface and copious notes.
Translated by Ruth Urbom

Life through the lens

22 December 2010 | Extracts, Non-fiction

Let’s go on a little pictorial journey in time with the photographer Erik Hägglund, whose camera went on clicking for 50 years: gentlefolk, peasants, children, old people and village views, beginning almost a hundred years ago in rural western Finland

Ladies in hats: in the 1920s Vörå hats were only used by gentlewomen (and smoking was perhaps a little risqué). Photo: Erik Häggblom

Blickfång. En tidsresa med Vöråfotografen Erik Hägglund (‘In focus. A journey in time with the photographer Erik Hägglund from Vörå’. Red. [Ed. by] Katja Hellman, Meta Sahlström & Monica West. Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 2010

Old photographs may prove that what is utterly local can be perfectly universal.

That’s certainly the impression the reader gets by looking at the pictures taken by Eric Hägglund between 1910 and 1960.

The village of Vörå (in Finnish, Vöyri) on the west coast of Finland, near the Ostrobothnian city of Vasa (in Finnish, Vaasa) is traditionally mostly a Swedish-speaking community. Erik Hägglund, born 1884, lived, photographed and died there in 1962. More…

On the job

10 December 2010 | Extracts, Non-fiction

‘I like my pictures to be realistic and truthful, not that I can satisfactorily define what realism is. The real people in my pictures are in their real surroundings, even though they are posing for me. I see this as a series of encounters. The subjects present their “working role” for me, which I record‚’ says photographer Eija Irene Hiltunen. In these extracts she introduces her project and samples of her photography present people at work in contemporary Finland

Extracts from Työn tekijät. Muotokuvia suomalaisesta työstä. / Doing the job. Portraits of Finnish working life by Eija Irene Hiltunen. Texts: Pasi Alametsä. Translations: Joseph White. Layout: Petri Kuokka & Eija Irene Hiltunen (Avain, 2009)

A waitress. Photo: Eija Irene Hiltunen, 2001

One of the most important aims of my portraits has been to record an image of the times. I chose work as the common denominator because it relates to the social structure on so many levels.

The ‘visual inventory’ of Weimar Germany by the classic photographer August Sander has been the major inspiration for my work. He made a huge impression on me during my student days. He told of the upheavals of his own time through his portraits, as the old class society broke down, and of the time before the Second World War and the birth of modern Germany. Sander beautifully depicted history through the individual, and his portraits have remained as testaments to life during that era. More…

Petri Keto-Tokoi & Timo Kuuluvainen: Suomalainen aarniometsä [The Finnish virgin forest]

12 November 2010 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Suomalainen aarniometsä
[The Finnish virgin forest]
Helsinki: Maahenki, 2010. 302 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-5870-06-0
€ 48, hardback

This book explains the cultural significance of forests – particularly virgin forests – to Finns. That term is used to refer to old-growth forests in their natural state, characterised by trees of different ages, an abundance of decaying tree remains, and continuous incremental changes. Nowadays around four per cent of Finnish forests are in a natural or near-natural state, and light is being shed on their ecosystems and the history of the slowly vanishing virgin forests. They are associated with deep-seated values and a multiplicity of roles throughout history. To many artists forests have been a significant elemental force, worthy even of worship; peasants and the timber industry have exploited the virgin forests. The authors also consider whether answers to key environmental issues will be found in old-growth forests: safeguarding natural diversity and slowing climate change. In addition to illustrative material from the authors, the book contains photographs by award-winning photographers Ritva Kovalainen and Sanni Seppo.

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.

Dog days

30 September 2010 | This 'n' that

Russian dogs by Pentti Sammallahti (Solovki, White Sea, 1992)

How does he do it? The dogs pose in Pentti Sammallahti’s photographs like professional models who know how to keep still.

Sammallahti admits sausages and sardines sometimes help communication.

In 1998, in the old, printed version of Books from Finland, we published a selection of Sammallahti’s photographs, together with some written impressions by the British photographer and essayist John Berger. According to him, people who first see the selection of Sammallahti photographs he has, ‘usually gasp at first, and then peer closer, smiling,’ as they seem to remember something they knew as children, but which they have forgotten how to see – from the times ‘we talked to the dogs, listened to their secret and kept it to ourselves.’

Sammallahti (born 1950) is one of the pioneers of the Finnish photographic art and fine art printing, which he has also taught at the University of Industrial Arts and Design in Helsinki.

Specialising in black-and-white photography of people and their environment, Sammallahti has travelled extensively throughout Russia and Siberia, France and Finland. This autumn his work is featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki; you can see a selection of his photos here.

Bright lights, small city

26 August 2010 | Articles, Non-fiction

Helsinki people on the big wheel: Linnanmäki amusement park, 1968

Photographs and excerpts from Helsinki 1968 by Claire Aho and Kjell Westö (text in Finnish, Swedish and English; WSOY, 2010)

A year that rocked the world: 1968. The Vietnam War, the Chinese cultural revolution, the invasion of Czechoslovakia, hunger in Biafra. Helsinki that year: a quiet little city, in a quiet little country. But Finland’s baby-boomers, born after the war, were now coming of age, resulting in the beginnings of a change of generation in politics; and the students of Helsinki University  joined the global student unrest of this ‘crazy year’. Photographer Claire Aho takes a series of photographs of her home town, participating in an exhibition in Kiel, Germany. Forty-two years later her photos are published in Helsinki 1968, together with reflections by Kjell Westö, whose novels are deeply rooted in his native city. Here are words and images of Helsinki that mirror the past – and the present

Both the city and its people carry their past with them, find it hard to let go, and don’t really want to. Many of us are reluctant to embrace the new. Hence there is often something ambivalent, something enigmatic in the frozen moment of the photograph…. More…

Paris, je t’aime

7 May 2010 | This 'n' that

Ismo Kajander: Miss France, 1998

‘Paris traverse la pensée comme une encyclopédie de la vie, où l’on découvre des passages, des cours intérieures, des ruelles et des autoroutes, toujours plus surprenants. La ville ne se vide ni n’abandonne jamais, n’accorde ni ne refuse.’

‘Paris permeates your mind like an encyclopaedia of life in which you will incessantly discover astonishing new passages, courtyards, alleys and avenues. It will never either run empty or surrender, it won’t admit or refuse.’

L’air de Paris / Pariisin tuoksu (‘Air of Paris’, Musta Taide, 2009) is an elegant little book that features artwork by Ismo Kajander and texts by Anna Kortelainen relating to the mother city of all artists. More…

Nature’s own

22 April 2010 | Extracts, Non-fiction

As night falls, the silence is broken by pattering of small feet on the greying windowsill of an old, abandoned house: entire families may live under the rotten floorboards. Houses now inhabited not by humans but by wild animals are observed by Kai Fagerström and Heikki Willamo

The wolf's hour? An abandoned house is alive...

Extracts from Viimeiset vieraat. Elämää autiotaloissa [The last visitors. Life in abandoned houses, Maahenki, 2010] by Kai Fagerström, Risto Rasa & Heikki Willamo. Text by Willamo, poems by Rasa, photographs by Fagerström and Willamo

Some thirty years later I found the badgers’ cottage again – it wasn’t the same one, but the mood of my childhood still floated there. Grey walls and a shingle roof, bare gaping windows, the door creaking on its single hinge. Oak tree in the yard, lilacs flourishing wild. The forest was rapidly reclaiming its own behind the cottage. The mounds of sand beside the wall bases showed prints of strong-clawed paws and a number of paths, hardened from use, led into the woods. More…

The unmaking of Finland’s forests

17 March 2010 | Reviews

Natural landscapes? According to Metsähallitus, the government body charged with forestry, ‘the regeneration area is defined according to topography, in accordance with the landscape. Retention trees and groups of trees are always left standing in regeneration areas to enhance the landscape and to improve the survival chances of species that require old and decaying trees.’

Ritva Kovalainen & Sanni Seppo
Metsänhoidollisia toimenpiteitä
[Silvicultural operations]
Helsinki: Hiilinielu tuotanto ja Miellotar, 2009. 200 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-99113-4-9
€ 43

Finns have a strong identity as forest people, partly because more than 95 per cent of them still speak an ancient hunter-gatherer language, Finnish, as their mother tongue. In spite of this cultural and historical background, Finland has become the world’s most eager and influential proponent of forestry models based on clear-cutting – felling all the trees in a particular area at one go and planting new trees to replace them. More…

Street-corner man

11 March 2010 | Extracts, Non-fiction

c. bremer/boy

Check-up by a district nurse: from the exhibition ‘Everyday life in Finland’ (Muonio, 1970)

Photographs from Caj Bremer. Valokuvaaja / Photographer / Fotograf (Musta Taide, 2010; graphic design by Jorma Hinkka)

The period after the Second World War and before the age of television was the golden age of photojournals such as Life, Look and Paris Match. The big Finnish illustrated periodical was Viikkosanomat (‘The weekly news’); its early star, Caj Bremer, was one of the first Finnish press photographers to wander among people and record life as it was

‘Every photograph is the sum of aesthetic choices, and each one has a relationship with reality both when it is taken and in the time frame in which the viewer encounters it’, writes news editor and curator Riitta Raatikainen in her introduction to Caj Bremer. Valokuvaaja / Photographer / Fotograf.

Caj Bremer (born 1929) worked for years as a press photographer, most intensively between 1950 and 1970. A retrospective exhibition of his work over six decades opened at Helsinki’s Ateneum Art Museum in February (until 16 May). More…

Music on the go

3 March 2010 | Extracts, Non-fiction

A little night music: Teemu Kupiainen playing in Baddi, India, as the sun sets. Photo: Stefan Bremer (2009)

It was viola player Teemu Kupiainen‘s desire to play Bach on the streets that took him to Dharamsala, Paris, Chengdu, Tetouan and Lourdes. Bach makes him feel he is in the right place at the right time – and playing Bach can be appreciated equally by educated westerners, goatherds, monkeys and street children, he claims. In these extracts from his book Viulun-soittaja kadulla (‘Fiddler on the route’, Teos, 2010; photographs by Stefan Bremer) he describes his trip to northern India in 2004.

In 2002 I was awarded a state artist’s grant lasting two years. My plan was to perform Bach’s music on the streets in a variety of different cultural settings. My grant awoke amusement in musical circles around the world: ‘So, you really do have the Ministry of Silly Walks in Finland?’ a lot of people asked me, in reference to Monty Python. More…

Best foot forward

11 December 2009 | This 'n' that


Diem Hy and her trademark curls

When you step outside your office, what do you see? Not the streets and buildings, although photographing them could be an interesting project too, especially when you live and work in a city as self-consciously monumental as Helsinki. No; we’re talking about the shifting landscape of people and their clothes, as documented in the primarily photographic website Hel Looks.

A ‘hobby project’ by Liisa Jokinen and Sampo Karjalainen, Hel Looks documents fashion in the streets and clubs of Helsinki. It’s self-consciously a fashion project – in addition to documenting Finnish looks, Jokinen and Karjalainen want to ‘encourage people to dress and create their own styles… to promote emerging Finnish designers… because we like fashion, clothing, young people and photography.’

For us, though, the stories the pictures tell are more fascinating. Each entry shows one or two people. usually photographed in the street, accompanied by a brief quote from the subject. Some simply roll-call the designers they’re wearing, which may be interesting for the fashion pack but not so interesting for the rest of us. But others offer self-analyses that could, at the very least, furnish the beginnings of a short story. Diem Hy, 17, for example, is shown  in jeans and a second-hand leather jacket: ‘My hair is my trade mark. I’m not sure if I could live without my curls’; Simo, 18, likes ‘all clothes that date from before 1992’, Buster, 18, dresses in his grandfather’s clothes and likes to think ‘that I can dress old-fashioned but keep my mind fresh.’ Tiia, 22, simply ‘likes the colour blue’ (and indeed is dressed in nothing else). The range of selves, and self-presentations, is endless. Any authors in search of a character can simply apply here.

Jorma Luhta: Tähtiyöt [Starry nights]

20 November 2009 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Jorma LuhtaTähtiyöt
[Starry nights]
Helsinki: Maahenki, 2009. 84 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-5652-75-8
€ 41, hardback

Jorma Luhta (born 1951) is an award-winning Finnish nature photographer and author. The subject material of this book is night-time in the forests of northern Finland, illuminated by the stars and the Northern Lights. The problem of light pollution means that even in sparsely populated Lapland the lights from population centres can hamper the view over a radius of two hundred kilometres. Jorma Luhta’s photographs are the result of many years of dogged effort. The most impressive images of all were taken on the coldest night in a century: temperatures fell to around –50 °C. It takes split-second precision to achieve the greatest shots, such as when Luhta’s camera records a sheet of Aurora Borealis resembling Picasso’s white dove of peace (above). In his lyrical text Luhta, a night-time walker in the woods, observes his natural surroundings and contemplates such matters as his fear of the dark and feelings of isolation.

Here and there

11 September 2009 | Extracts, Non-fiction

Extracts and photographs from Jotain on tapahtunut /Something happened (Musta Taide, 2009; translation by Jüri Kokkonen)

Photo: Markus JokelaNews photos document dramatic, dangerous or tragic incidents – but the photojournalist Markus Jokela is interested in documenting ordinary, domestic and everyday life, be it in Iraq, Russia, Biafra or Sri Lanka. These photographs, with commentaries, are taken from his new book, Jotain on tapahtunut / Something happened (2009), offering glimpses of life in contemporary Finland and in the United States

I’ve never been particularly enthusiastic about individual news photos, especially about taking them.

A good news photo has to state things bluntly and it has to be quite simple in visual terms. It must open up immediately to the viewer.

But the images in photo reportages do not have to scream simplified truths. They can whisper and ask, and open up gradually. One can come back to them. The reportage is something personal. Though a poor medium for telling about the complex facts of the world, it can provide experiences that survive. More…