Contemporary Finnish Photography : Independence Through the Lenses

Museum of Arts and Crafts

Grand opening: 05/09 ∙ 20:00
05/09 ∙ 20:00 – 20/09 ∙ 20:00

Exhibition of Contemporary Finnish Photography, “Independence Through the Lenses”

Backlight Photo Festival celebrates its 30th anniversary and Finland’s 100 years of independence by organizing an exhibition tour of seven Finnish photographic artists in Europe. The tour “Independence Through the Lenses” is realized together with the Backlight Photo Festival and its international partners in Hungary, Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Slovakia, Lithuania, and Latvia as part of the Programme on the centenary of Finland ´s independence in 2017. The artists presented on the tour are Juha Arvid Helminen, Jaakko Kahilaniemi, Harri Pälviranta and Juuso Westerlund. The curator is Tuula Alajoki.

Artists discuss the experience of independence and the ways that cultural traditions and memories shape our ways of seeing and looking at ourselves and at others, as well as the freedom of speech and expression, and awareness of options available, which enable polyphonic national and individual identity. At the same time, public discussion and generalized opinions insidiously lower the limits of acceptability, while strengthening controversial power structures. In our desire to act well and right, we end up in a state of confusion where we lose sight of what is fair and how to defend democratic equality and self-determination without being personally pointed at, placed outside, or on the other side. Wariness and fear narrow our common living space. Images here serve as passages between memory and oblivion, between presence and absence, allowing us to imagine what might have happened previously. Roots, independence, and a sense of belonging create comfort and refuge, an emotional bond and an idea of a place you can always go back to.

Juha Arvid Helminen (b. 1977, Helsinki) graduated from Lahti Institute of Design in 2010. His art deals with the misuse of power through the aesthetics associated with it. The carefully composed, subtle photos with covered characteristics arise a questions on what is it to be an individual. The artworks of Helminen have been featured in galleries and publications worldwide.


Jaakko Kahilaniemi (b. 1989, Toijala) is currently studying for an MA in Photography at Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki. Recent exhibitions include the solo shows 100 Hectares of Understanding, The Finnish Museum of Photography (Helsinki, FI, 2016), Tapiola–The First Act, Gallery Titanik (Turku, FI, 2014) and his work has been shown in art fairs like Vienna Contemporary (Wien, AT, 2016) and in Paris Photo ’16 (Paris, FR, 2016). Kahilaniemi is represented by Gallery Taik Persons in Berlin.


Harri Pälviranta (b.1971, Finland) is a photographic artist. He holds a Doctor of Arts degree in photography from the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki (2012). His works has been exhibited in numerous exhibitions internationally, the latest group shows being held at Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain, Metropolitan Arts Center in Belfast, Northern Ireland and Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, Germany and solo shows at Gallery H2O in Barcelona, Spain, CFF gallery in Stockholm, Sweden and Tampere Art Museum in Finland. In 2007, he won the prestigious PhotoEspana Descubrimientos award.


Juuso Westerlund (b.1975, Helsinki) Like the heat when you enter a sauna Juuso Westerlund’s images are overwhelmingly intense and weird, sometimes grimly cold, yet warm. It´s the rare kind of photography where you just have to see another one, and another one, and when you think you recognise something you are only thrown into another scene from a daily life situation that you most likely haven´t seen before, at least not photographed. Not like this. The photographs reveal a never ending curiosity and love of people, joy of the absurd and surreal. Never boring.