Karina-Sirkku Kurz Supernature 3.–26.1.2020

Photographic Gallery Hippolyte

Our human ability to know the world through both our consciousness and our bodies has been a major philosophical idea of the 20th Century. The core of Karina-Sirkku Kurz’s exhibition SUPERNATURE consists of minimalist images of aesthetic plastic surgery measures which reveal how we relate, think of, and change our physical form. How do we experience something that takes place inside our bodies? What are the processes affecting the human self-image when it becomes reliant on the services of modification?

In the exhibition SUPERNATURE, Kurz is fascinated by the human body’s position as a material substance as well as possessing awareness. Drawing from phenomenologist thinking, and most recently philosopher Jenny Slatman’s Our Strange Body, Kurz examines the human physique as a perceiving thing. According to Slatman the body’s thinghood cannot be considered separately from its embodied subjectivity—furthering her notion that being a subject is inscribed in being an object. This “strange” dimension makes the body befitting of radical physical change.

Kurz’s interest now lies on the body as a malleable, sculptural object. Her work centres on external modification, upon where physical appearance is purposely altered. On view are images related to the deliberate (re)shaping and designing of the human form. After going through interventions that can plainly interfere with and permanently alter the body, can one determine a point where the “I” starts, or might an individual begin experiencing an alienating from themselves?

Kurz investigates the duality of the human body from different angles and explores how people relate to their exterior selves. However, her photographic gaze is neither flattering nor judgmental but akin to an adaptive lyricism. Her images, which may convey visual perplexity, play and prod at the notion of physical sensations⁠—discomfort, tenderness⁠—questioning where to draw limits, both for the subjects photographed and the viewer observing them.

Seen in the gallery are delicate black and white photographs combined harmoniously with colour prints. Carefully considered printing methods emphasise the physicality and the materiality of the images. On closer inspection, of these aesthetically pleasing photographic fragments, more startling imagery emerges.

Karina-Sirkku Kurz is a Finnish-German photographer and visual artist currently living in Berlin, Germany. In 2013, she graduated with a Master’s degree from the Department of Photography at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture. She has also studied at Lahti University of Applied Sciences and the University of the Arts Bremen. Kurz’s work on eating disorders has won and been nominated for several prizes. The book related to the topic, UNGLEICHGEWICHT (imbalance), won the Nordic Dummy Award in 2015 and was then published by Kehrer Verlag. In 2017, UNGLEICHGEWICHT won the Finnish Photobook Award, organised by the Association of Photographic Artist and The Finnish Museum of Photography. Photographer Alec Soth chose the winner. The body of work currently on view at Photographic Hippolyte is on display for the first time.

Arts Promotion Centre Finland kindly supports the artist’s work and the realisation of the exhibition.

In media
Helsingin Sanomat
Helsingin paikallislehdet
Ny tid


Enchantingly disgusting body
Discussion with artist Karina-Sirkku Kurz and artist professor Maija Tammi
Saturday 25.1.2020 at 15-16
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte (Yrjönkatu 8-10, Helsinki)

Recently, human body and its materiality has played a major role in the works of many artists. In Hippolyte’s artist talk Karina-Sirkku Kurz opens her artistic process, her relationship with the human body and aesthetic surgery. The discussion will be held together with artist professor Maija Tammi.

Karina-Sirkku Kurz’s SUPERNATURE examines the human body’s position as a material substance as well as possessing awareness. The images on view at the gallery play and prod at the notion of physical sensations—discomfort and tenderness. The works negotiate where to draw limits both for the subject photographed and the viewer observing them. The event is free of charge and will be held in Finnish.

SUPERNATURE is on view at Photographic Gallery Hippolyte from until January 26th 2020. In 2017, Kurz’s previous work UNGLEICHGEWICHT (Kehrer Verlag, 2016) on eating disorders won the Finnish Photobook Award, organised by the Associan of Photographic Artists and the Finnish Museum of Photography. Artist and Doctor of Arts Maija Tammi explores the boundaries of disgust and fascination, and science and art, both in writing and in photographs and videos. Tammi has been awarded with Fotofinlandia, among others, and has published three books.


Karina-Sirkku Kurz
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Open: Tue-Fri 12-17, Sat-Sun 12-16

image: Karina-Sirkku Kurz, 2019
exhibition images: Eija Mäkivuoti, 2020