Gender, corporeality and questions of male identity permeate Kari Soinio’s work. His photographs employ the artist’s own body to approach the representations of masculinity critically. Through the use of self-portraiture, the shape of his body avails a personal narrative and comments on societal ills and issues.
Soinio’s exhibition at Hippolyte presents recent pieces that continue the series of works under the title Hero, mostly photographed during his time living in New York between 2011 – 2016. Additionally included are pieces started this past autumn in Paris, during an artist residency, where his approach to the body took on new directions while referring to the masters of French sculpture.
Kari Soinio’s pieces complicate the nude figure, depicting something recognisably male yet pushing the boundaries towards androgyny. Shapes and postures allow for various interpretations – as the artist controls the pose a gender is not always apparent to the viewer. These attempts to find ways to portray the male body, in a way that challenges traditional and historical aesthetic expressions of photography, also seek room for humour.
The performances of gender and its social implications, together with somatic aesthetics, are topics that generate collisions within the world, seem to reemerge all around us, and continue to proliferate new approaches within a visual language. Kari Soinio’s exhibition at Hippolyte is a continuation of his extensive and ongoing series, Hero, where he has explored the depictions of masculinity through photography since the very beginning of his career. It is an example of a lifelong project where an artist approaches an ever current and focal topic over and over again.
Since late 1980’s, Kari Soinio has pioneered an investigation into normative gender binaries within the Finnish photographic canon. Another important theme for Kari Soinio is the landscape, which he combines with his explorations of maleness, enabling diverse viewpoints into both identity and human-nature relationships. His work has exhibited in many solo and group shows, in Finland and internationally, including Europe and the United States. In addition to his artistic practice, Kari Soinio has curated exhibitions and is an active figure in the artist-association scene of Finland. His solo show at Gallery Heino in 2012, featured work from the series Hero. Station Independent Projects gallery, in New York, displayed works from the series in 2013 and 2016. Additionally, a number of his works were included in Gestures Towards the Self, at Aboa Vetus & Ars Nova museum in Turku from June – August in 2017.
Hero in the Mirror
5–28 January 2018
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Exhibition open: Tue–Fri 12:00–17:00, Sat–Sun 12:00–16:00
image: Kari Soinio, from series Private Hero, 2013