“I have learned that the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power”.”
– Alok Vaid-Menon, Beyond the Gender Binary, 2020.
IN/VISIBILITY reflects on the politics of visibility. The works in the exhibition ask whether you must be visible and on what terms. When fighting for the rights of minorities, a photograph is often used for its evidentiary power—that’s when making people and phenomena visible takes centre stage. However, otherness is not always visible, or bringing it forth can put the people in the pictures in a vulnerable position. The series proposes photographic methods centred on self-determination, failure, and ambiguity.
The self-portraits of non-binary1 people were realised in a collaborative practice, where participants had control of their self-representation. They made and chose the portraits in this series themselves. This is a pursuit of utopia because the right to self-determination for non-binary people is rarely realised—they are not recognised legally, nor even in everyday life. The exhibition can be considered a joint exhibition of 47 people because the subjects themselves took the portraits. The first non-binary self-portraits were realised as part of Lautu’s master’s thesis in photographic art, and the ongoing photoshoots are part of their dissertation in gender studies.
Jack Halberstam claims that in a hetero-, and cisnormative society, queer people will always fail. However, being an outsider might reveal the absurdity of those norms. Failure can be a superpower. Alongside the self-portraits, the exhibition presents failed views, glitches, taken from Google Street View. They are details of the 360° images uploaded to the service saved with the screenshot function. These abstracted images are presented in the exhibition as large tapings taking over the space. In the enlargements, the pixelated image quality, which also opposes the traditional norm of a high-quality photo, becomes consequential.
Jussi Lautu (they/she) is a photographer who barely exists. They graduated with a MA degree in photography from Aalto University in 2020 and a MA degree in gender studies from the University of Helsinki in 2021. Their artistic work focuses on the questions of gender diversity. Lautu is interested in the effects of photographic representations and the questions of power in producing images.
If you’d like to have more information on the research project and would like to participate in the photoshoots, please contact the artist via email at email@example.com
The exhibition has been supported by Finnfoto ry, the Art Promotion Center, and the Olga and Vilho Linnamo Foundation.
1 Here ‘non-binary’ is used as an umbrella term for anyone who does not self-evidently identify according to the binary gender norm as a man or a woman.
28 October–20 November 2022
image: Jussi Lautu, Lines of Flight II, 2020