Tero Puha Sleep of Shadows 15.1.–6.3.2021

NB: Hippolyte Korjaamo is open for a final week 2–6 March 2021, after which the exhibition will be closed due to regional covid-restrictions. Opening times Tue-Thu 17:00-21:00, Fri 11:00-21:30, Sat 15:00-21:30.

Should you happen to miss the show, you’ll be able to enjoy a short video featuring images from “Sleep of Shadows” and the artist’s thoughts on his work and photography below.


What are the main themes, questions or reflections in your exhibition?

Comprising male portraits and nudes, this exhibition portrays a man as a sensitive figure, searching all at once for his own identity and another human being. He simultaneously directs his gaze towards another man and himself, trying to discover the “right” way to be in this world. In my images, masculinity sometimes appears as sensitive and vulnerable, in other moments, as something powerful.

The exhibition’s rhythm, via visually congruent images, forms a poetic whole, where narratives arise from the models’ subtle expressions and gestures. Despite their nudity and eroticism, the depicted men have something restrained about them; this man does not sweat or smell, he is a distant, dreamlike image whose calm desire remains yet to be fulfilled.

How was the exhibition formed? Where were the photographs taken?

In preparation for the exhibition, I went through my film archives from 1994 onwards. I have photographed men at different times of my life, throughout Finland and elsewhere (London, Paris, New York). These men include my friends, partners, acquaintances, and sometimes even strangers. I find it interesting to look at my pictures from different years side to side and see what conversations arise between them. The latest works in the exhibition are from 2020, but most of the older images are on display for the first time.

With this exhibition, I have returned to black and white photography, and with it, some core concepts within photography emerged—light, form and moment—which I use to explore presence. Intense, simple lighting and clear compositions are characteristic to my images, but I feel that the monochromatic expression emphasises the particular way I see my subject, the materials, and surrounding space. Up until 2009, the images in the series were captured on film—the later photos were shot with a digital camera though taken with various manual-focus lenses. Unlike many of my other works, these have not undergone any digital manipulation. I have returned to my roots as an artist, so to say; to straight-forward photography.

Who are you as an artist? Briefly introduce yourself and your relationship to photography.

The reoccurring, prominent theme in all my work is contemporary male identity, which I have dealt with interdisciplinarily, persistently, and consistently throughout my career. Over the years, my artistic production has included photography exhibitions, artist portfolios, photo books, performances, short films, stage work, and graphic art. In the field of contemporary art, I am probably best known for my cross-disciplinary art productions that often include image manipulation, graphic elements, and performance. I have gravitated increasingly towards moving image and performing arts in recent years; I feel that my multifaceted skills as an artist are best utilised within cinematic and narrative projects.

Several significant public collections in Finland hold my works: the National Gallery / Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, the Museum of Finnish Photography, the Helsinki Art Museum HAM and EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art. My works have also been acquired to museum collections in Denmark and Japan. I was awarded the State Prize for Photography in 2014, and in 2019 I received the Konstiniekka Culture Prize from my home municipality of Nurmijärvi in Southern Finland.

Tero Puha has received support for his work from The Finnish Cultural Foundation / Uusimaa Regional Fund. Arts Promotion Centre Finland and Finnfoto support the exhibition.

Tero Puha

Sleep of Shadows

15 Jan – 14 Mar 2021
Hippolyte Korjaamo

Töölönkatu 51 a-b, Helsinki

Open in accordance to Korjaamo’s opening times:
Tue-Thu 17:00-21:00, Fri 11:00-21:30, Sat 15:00-21:30

Please note that the covid-19 pandemic affects galleries’ opening times. Please check the current situation at each location before your visit. 

photo: Tero Puha, Tony in Alexandra Park, London (2009)
installation shots (below): Milla Talassalo