Emilia Pennanen Sunspinner (Rosa Rocha) 11.5.–2.6.2024

Hippolyte Studio

The cave is like a mirror, looking back, a mirror with eyes, a mirror that is private, mine. In the mirror is the ocean, something moving, unstoppable, blue, brown, green, grey, heavy, moist, an endless sea. The cave is mine, mine, mine, not to be shared. The cave is my body, and my body oozes fluids; sea water eats it slowly with kisses, salt licks my feet, slowly waiting, and I melt into it until I become the sea; slowly, stone corrodes and surrenders to the sea. The surface of the sea is a mirror that never stops, always looking back; water droplets rise from its surface.

– Emilia Pennanen

Emilia Pennanen’s exhibition Sunspinner (Rosa Rocha) at Hippolyte Studio is an entity formed from photographic sculptures. The exhibition examines what landscapes are made of and explores how they could be presented in a new way. The works highlight the artist’s view of the connection between femininity and nature, which manifests as an uncontrollable force beyond human reach. In multi-material pieces, the work reflects on the tension between experiencing landscapes and being in a place.

The photographic sculptures combine landscape photographs printed on silk fabrics, produced through digital and analogue methods. The pictures contain details that construct the landscape, such as limestone and sandstone, the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean and its flora, shells, and fossils, as well as self-portraits within the landscape and its elements.  Pennanen’s interest in multi-materiality as part of creating photographs has emerged from the desire to convey a sensory experience akin to that of time spent in specific places. Images printed on textiles, wood frames, and plaster sculptures allude to touch and natural forms, such as caves, the surface and shapes of stone, and the endlessly roaring ocean that moulds them.

The series originated from Pennanen’s work in Portugal, near the coastline of the Atlantic Ocean. The time spent in the location led her to contemplate her relationship with landscapes perceived as sublime, such as the ocean and mountains. In these landscapes, there is a feminine force defined by Pennanen that both shapes and destroys life. The artist believes that this force does not adhere to heteronormative models but is free and gender-neutral. The inspiration for the exhibition comes from a myth encountered in Portugal, about the water goddess Nabia, described as The Lady of the Lusitanian waters, who appears to the artist as a mixture of beauty, sliminess, wateriness, horror, and love. This force resides in the unstoppable continuum of nature, which is uncontrollable, changing, and continuously reborn. Through the myth, Pennanen explores the connections between nature and femininity in her work, examining the relationship between the two.

The exhibition also examines the limitations of traditional landscape photography’s two-dimensional surface, which often distances the viewer from nature. At the core of Pennanen’s work is the quest for a new way to observe landscapes through the medium of photography, diverging from the tradition by exploring them up close and from multiple perspectives.

Emilia Pennanen (b. 1990) is a photographic artist residing in Helsinki who works with photography, sculpture, text, and sound. In her multi-material works, Pennanen explores the intertwining of corporeality, landscape photography, sensuality, nature, memory, presence, and femininity. Experimentation and methods that push the boundaries of photography are central to her process. Pennanen received her BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 2014 and her MA from Aalto University at the Department of Photography in 2022. Her work has been exhibited globally, including in Finland, Portugal, the USA, and England.

The exhibition and the artist’s work have been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland (Taike).

The plants used in the artworks were collected from nature in collaboration with Noa P. Mendes, a Portuguese herbalist artist.



Emilia Pennanen
Sunspinner (Rosa Rocha)
11 May–2 June 2024
Hippolyte Studio


image: Emilia Pennanen, Luola, peili, 2024