relating to a transitional or initial stage of a process.
occupying a position at, or on both sides of, a boundary or threshold.
The exhibition Liminal Spaces takes its form from souveniers, uncanny experiences, strangeness, alienation, youth, strains, slits, leather, and pulp. The works are statements, documentaries, studies, and dives into the liminal spaces between youth and adulthood, work and leisure, identities and nationalities, as well as desires and fears. They are gentle, uncomfortable, quiet, difficult, and soft depictions of personal experiences between boundaries and in the gaps of society.
Photofuss is the youth group of The Finnish Museum of Photography, which through collective work provides an opportunity to realise and experience the phenomena of photographic culture. The activities of the group are based on research and experimentation, and are guided by the group’s own interests and ideas. Photofuss plans and produces its own exhibitions. The group is formed for one year at a time, and takes members every spring through an open call.
The exhibition presents works by group members Tuukka Jaromaa, Sanna Nykänen, Milja Laakso, Johanna Lahtinen, Lyy Raitala, Elle Sumelius ja Artem Zazulin. Group coordinator Roope Laukkanen has also taking part in organising the exhibition.
Tuukka Jaromaa (b. 2001) has practised photography for the past five years. Spontaneously Jaromaa photographs the world around us and its phenomena. Recently, as a photographer his interest lies in societal events, which he processes from his own perspective. In his series The Weight of Youth, Jaromaa reflects on the liminal spaces between identities through social pressures.
Sanna Nykänen (b. 1999) developed an interest in photography in primary school, when she and her sister were given a shared camera. Growing up taking pictures had an effect in Nykänen’s life, and she became interested in documentary photography. Later, this progressed into adventures to artistic photography and other forms of image making. Her contemporary work focuses on film photography and making imperfect images. The subjects of her works are other people and their varied agency. Nykänen’s photoseries Window examines person’s place in the liminal space between heaven and earth. The pictures were taken in Lintula orthodoxical convent for nuns in Heinävesi in spring 2019. In the convent the time seems to be still and hours pass by as the nuns complete obediently their chores and prayers. The convent is a place, where people sacrifice their whole lives and their own mundane identities, believing that despite the uncertainties of the world they would be rewarded for their work.
Milja Laakso (b.1995) found the love for photography gradually through commercial practise. In her work, Laakso examines the essence of things, emotions, and varying body shapes. Contemporary ideals and social media have caused a shift in the meanings of images as well as new value for naturality and authenticity—as well as Laakso’s work and her personal life. Her photographs take their form from subjective experiences of beauty, which through her process become shared notions of the world and small details. In her series Stigma, Laakso depicts her own struggles with her inner wold and reflection. As “half-Finnish” Laakso contemplates the feelings of not-belonging and existing outside of what it means to be “normal Finnish person”. The series contests the world where no one looks under the surface.
Johanna Lahtinen (b.1995) studies photography in Pekka Halonen’s academy. Lahtinen works with phenomena connected to artistic and documentary photography. In her artistic work, Lahtinen addresses heavy subjects with levity and humour, sometimes combining her photographs with writings and drawings. Occurring themes in her work include mental health, apocalypse(s) and growing into adulthood. In her series Stranger Lahtinen illustrates her own experience with dissociation*. The images tell of a situation when all of a sudden you don’t recognise your own reflection, and when a blurry veil appears between yourself and the world.
* The word “dissociation” means differentiation and fragmentation. Psychiatric dissociation is a state, where the individual cannot connect their thoughts, feelings, observations and memories into coherent experience in their consciousness. Dissociative symptoms include feelings of otherness and disconnection between oneself or one’s surroundings with reality, losing the sense of space and time, and psychogenic memory loss. Dissociation is a psychic coping mechanism and adaptation reaction to trauma. The mind attempts to protect itself from threatening situations by closing off the parts of the brain associated with pain during traumatic event. Later anything associated with the traumatic event can trigger dissociation. Dissociation is differentiated from psychotic states as it is alienating oneself from reality where in psychotic states the sense of reality is lost completely. (Duodecim 2018; Suomen trauma- ja dissosiaatioyhdistys 2020, transl.)
Lyy Raitala (b. 1999) is a photographer born in Oulu, who is interested in working with documentative images and street photography. In her work, Raitala depicts the everyday world surrounding us, highlighting extraordinary and disregarded details. Raitala’s work is a study and an observation on life and brings surprising and strange moments into the focus. Frequent themes in Raitala’s work are identity, diverse lifestyles, and varying societal phenomena. Raitala’s body of work From 9 to 5 is a combination of utopia, aspirations for permanence and secure life, but also the fear ot stabilising and losing oneself to work. We are constantly living in a liminal space, transferring between odd jobs, professions, periods of unemployment, and studying. Our identities need to bend and stretch in these changes. The images reflect the pressure young people experience around working life and finding their own direction. These pressures originate from the idea that we need to define ourselves through work, productivity, and the multitude of possibilities, which in the end seem to be out of our reach.
Elle Sumelius (b. 1998) is a cinematography student from Helsinki. Documentary narration and the borders between documentary and fictional narration have been recently the centre of her work, through which she contemplates her own position as an image maker as well as the need to draw lines between these modes of narration. Nature plays a pivotal part in Sumelius’ work and functions as a key element in her newest series In an Hourglass. Sumelius’ body of work reflects her own feelings about the concept of time. How our bodies are used to living in the past, and how that affects our experiences of ourselves. When one feels the need to travel somewhere unknown, do they perhaps feel the need to run away from themselves and the mundane environment? Does one seek that liminal space, where the body can be lost both physically and spiritually? In an Hourglass photoseries is both an open question and an ongoing process.
Artem Zazulin (b. 1994) is a Helsinki-based photographer. He started photographing at the age 11, when he received his first camera as a present. His work is often situation based, capturing the world around us, and mediating his personal experiences into shared images. He works with black and white photographs, focusing on light and shadows, borders and lines. The basis of his work is often philosophical, which direct his thinking and approach to image-making. Zazulin was nominated for Monochrome Awards 2018 in the Fine Art Amateur category. In his body of work Case Closed, Nosturi, Zazulin has depicted individuals from the Helsinki underground music community, who defying all the rules, decided to hold a farewell party in an officially closed space. The Nosturi cultural house has hosted many artistic events, but the City of Helsinki granted the building a demolition decision at the end of 2018. In his series, Zazulin is a spectator and participant, eyes and feet. In Case Closed, Nosturi, he reflects on his own experiences and transfers then into shared memories.
The body of work is produced together with The Culture Factory Korjaamo and The Finnish Museum of Photography.
Välitilat // Liminal Spaces
Tuukka Jaromaa, Sanna Nykänen, Milja Laakso, Johanna Lahtinen, Lyy Raitala, Elle Sumelius, Artem Zazulin
Korjaamo Culture Factory
Töölönkatu 51 a-b, 00250 Helsinki
Open during Korjaamo opening hours: Tue-Sat 15-23
image: Elle Sumelius, Passing through #1, from series Inside an Hourglass, 2020