Hannele Rantala has created the thirty portraits that constitute Fiasco over the last three years in various European countries. Its themes revolve around shame and failure. While most would be apprehensive to admit recognising these figures, many of the people depicted in the images are highly familiar. The adjoining texts refer to the subjects’ inner dialogue—an unadmitted, though plausible, attitude for many. The images and writings in Fiasco are perceptions of a hidden world. The work is fictional but true.
Initially Hannele Rantala used Petite Bourgeoisie as a working title for the exhibition, a reference to the work of German photographer August Sander and a starting point to her photographs. His seminal book of sixty images, titled Antlitz der Zeit (Face of Our Time) was published in 1929 and included a preface by Alfred Döblin. Sander observed his own time, but now the images of the past show the impoverished petite bourgeoisie as people who both voted Hitler into power and kept him in power during World War II.
The subtitle to Fiasco is Moral Failures. When in the vicinity of crisis, the asymmetries of both individual and communal speech and action are on trial, whereas in times of peace one’s internal morality is not necessarily tested. As one character in the exhibition posits: “Surely no-one is quite as good as their word—in courageousness that is. Makes me laugh, remembering what one thought. As if one might have actually been the way one had imagined.”
Fiasco also investigates the bond between literature and art. It is divided into six chapters, each one matched with a literary citation, that carry both the work and the viewer forward. Hippolyte will host a discussion on the relationship linking literature and visual art with Hannele Rantala and novelist Mikko Rimminen on Sunday, March 18, at 2 p.m. A few days each week, Hannele Rantala will be present in the gallery reading aloud Franz Kafka’s novel The Castle.
In addition to photographs Hannele Rantala often works with photography based, site-specific pieces, and performances—frequently employing acts, texts and interventions. Her works deal with homelessness, departures and transformations, as well as states and situations somewhere in the margins. Having worked for many years outside her home country of Finland Rantala explores very personal themes of foreignness and intersectionality. Her recent works include her street sweeping pieces such as The Bridge (sweeping the Williamsburg Bridge in NYC 2014) and her missing persons poster projects like Har du sett denna kvinna? (Have you seen this woman?) in Stockholm, Sweden 2008. A large retrospective of Hannele Rantala’s works titled The End of Wonderful Times was exhibited at The Finnish Museum of Photography in 2015, including works from 1975 to 2015. Hannele Rantala has published three books of her photographic works Sand Circle (Musta Taide, 2007), Blue Scarf (Musta Taide, 2014) and The End of Wonderful Times (Musta Taide, 2015), all available at Hippolyte’s bookshop.
Fiasco – Moral Failures
2–25 March 2018
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Exhibition open: Tue–Fri 12:00–17:00, Sat–Sun 12:00–16:00
(image: Hannele Rantala)