”Some animals have been given a sixth sense: intuition. Something of that quality is also possessed by a fully developed, educated woman.”
M.D. E.W. Wretlind in the book Naisten siitinelo (1893)
Milja Laurila’s exhibition Un problème féminin consists of a series of small colour photographs. Each image depicts a person, on closer examination a woman. The artist has cropped archival images she has found so that the faces can not bee seen. Laurila often uses old archival images in her works. ”I’m interested in what happens to images when they are removed from their original context. Do photographs convey knowledge, or something else? The archival images become a mystery in my mind: Do these women have a secret they’re not sharing with me?”
For Milja Laurila, images often seem mute, as if they crave for words by their side. Faced with a photograph a viewer always asks: What is this a picture of? Where does it come from? The need for an explanation feels particularly strong when looking at an archival image: you feel a need to place it somewhere. By removing any captions and removing the archival images from their original context the artist places the photographs in a challenging situation. “I give them a chance to speak for themselves, with a voice of their own. But do they speak? I wonder if they just stand content in their own silence and let the viewer keep on guessing,” the artist ponders.
Milja Laurila (b. 1982) graduated with an MA in Photography from the Aalto University in Helsinki in 2010. Throughout her career, she has used old photographs as material for her works. In her debut To Rememer, at Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in 2007, Laurila utilised pictures from her own childhood family album. Later she has focused on images found in old encyclopedias and medical books. Her latest exhibitions include: Magnetic Sleep at Photographic Centre Peri (Turku, 2015), Greatest of all is Love? at Wäinö Aaltonen Museum of Art (Turku, 2013) and The Latest Knowledge at Forum Box (Helsinki, 2012). During spring 2016, Milja Laurila’s works will be seen at Gallery Taik Persons in Berlin, Museum of Contemporary Art MOCAK in Krakow and Photo London, in London.
4–27 March 2016
Un problème féminin
Yrjönkatu 8–10 courtyard, 00120 Helsinki, Finland
+358 9 612 33 44, www.hippolyte.fi
Tue–Fri 12–17, Sat–Sun 12–16
(image: Milja Laurila, from series Un problème féminin, 2016)