Yrjönkatu 8–10 (courtyard), 00120 Helsinki, Finland, +358 9 612 33 44, www.hippolyte.fi
Open: Tue–Fri 12–17, Sat–Sun 12–16
9 August – 1 September 2013
Photographs of Finnish Schools
Each of us have our own idea of what a school looks like, what it smells and sounds like. We can trace back the feeling of the wood grain on the top of the desk and can be overtaken by strong emotions if we get a chance to visit those once familiar spaces years later. The schools pictured in this exhibition are for children between 7 and 16 years old. Being compulsory, they form a part of everyone’s personal history. Our memories are individual, but they are based on shared elements. These images were created in an attempt to access those memories and emotions, but also out of interest in today’s school environments.
Finland is seen as a leading country when it comes to quality of education. This selection of photographs forms a portrait of this mundane, but at the same time vibrant and colourful institution. It’s an attempt to preserve and document these changing environments, while also focusing on the marks and changes left in them by each generation trying to make the spaces their own.
The exhibition is based on images from my book Autuas aina – Photographs of Finnish Schools, published in 2012. The series consists of 75 photographs, shot in 24 schools all around Finland. The images focus on the space, the details, and the marks that remain once the people are gone. The spaces themselves are cast in the leading role, but the story they tell is nonetheless a story about people.
The title refers to the Finnish proverb “Opin sauna, autuas aina”, which very roughly translates as “Sauna of education, eternal elation”. When I was a child my father always used to say it with a sigh filled with sarcastic pathos as we drove past his old elementary school on our way to our grandmother’s house. Schools are saturated with our memories, both good and bad. Like a sauna, they tend to carry elements of both bliss and pain.
Aino Huhtaniemi lives and works in Helsinki. In 2011 she completed an MA in Photography at the Aalto University School of Art and Design.
The project is supported by The Finnish Cultural Foundation and The Foundation for Municipal Development.