Laura Konttinen When the Blackbirds Return 26.5.–30.7.2023

Laura Konttinen’s exhibition When the Blackbirds Return is a travelogue where fragments of stories and staged imagery intertwine. The exhibition consists of a series of photographs, an installation, and an autofictional text called Travelogue.

The starting point of the exhibition is an old photograph found amongst Konttinen’s late grandmother Sylvia’s possessions. The photo, taken in 1920, depicts a house in the town of Salem, USA, where the artist’s grandmother was born. The exact address of the house is no longer known, but it gradually becomes an obsession for the artist, who, one hundred years after the photo was taken, embarks on a search for it. The resulting photographic series, born from this journey, is a collection of landscapes where real places, fairytales, her grandmother’s stories, and legends of the Salem Witch Trials from the 17th century, all interweave. The route to the house meanders through an abandoned cemetery where the same blackbirds, mentioned in her grandmother’s stories, nest. In a hundred years, the house itself has also transformed into something quite different.

The visual language of the work echoes the logic of nostalgia, where the distant past is dressed in a romanticised attire, bustling with symbolism and vivid exaggeration. The exhibition’s photographs are the result of a slow and meticulous craftsmanship. Konttinen constructs the landscapes of her artworks as temporary compositions for the camera, utilising materials such as photographic prints, leather scraps from flea markets, clay-molded objects, and plant illustrations cut from books inherited from her grandmother. Through carefully considered angles and lighting, a surreal image is born, simultaneously staged yet genuinely present before the camera’s lens. In the exhibition reality and fantasy merge seamlessly and overlap with the artist’s own personal journey.

Laura Konttinen (b. 1987, Säynätsalo) is a Helsinki-based visual artist whose photographic work focuses on the play between illusion and reality. Konttinen graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Art from Tampere University of Applied Sciences in 2010, and a Master of Arts degree from Aalto University’s Photography programme in 2020. Konttinen’s work has been featured in several solo and group exhibitions in Finland and abroad, most recently at Mikkeli Art Museum, Turku Kunsthalle and Jyväskylä Art Museum, as well as in Augustenborg Art Project in Denmark. Konttinen is also a writer and a co-founder of, a Finnish website that publishes texts by visual artists.

The realisation of the work has been supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation, Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike), and the Alfred Kordelin Foundation.



Laura Konttinen
When the Blackbirds Return
26 May–30 July 2023
Hippolyte Korjaamo (Töölönkatu 51 A-B, 00250 Helsinki)
Open according to the opening hours of Korjaamo