27 Feb – 22 Mar 2015 Mari Mäkiö, (a) life

Photographic Gallery Hippolyte

(eräs) elämä

27 Feb – 22 Mar 2015
(a) life


19 November 2014 at 10.34 Mari Mäkiö <mari.makio@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi Tommi,
Do you remember the photo albums in a shoe box you gave me years ago? Do you think you could tell me how you came across them, and maybe why you took them? (I might want to use this conversation as part of my art project, do you mind?)


2014-11-20 20:01 GMT+02:00 Tommi <tommi@xxx>:

yeah sure!

In summer 2008 or 2009 I worked as janitor in Helsinki. At one point during the summer one of my duties, in addition to picking up trash and mowing the lawn, was to empty the apartment of a man who had died. Apparently he had no heirs or family.

Normally most of the stuff would have been thrown directly to garbage, but I decided to take the good furniture and some other things to a recycling centre. Personal belongings could not be recycled, of course, so those were stuffed in large black trash bags. The smell of trash bags still makes me think of death every time I smell it.

In the situation where all his personal belongings were being taken to a garbage dump, photographs seemed an important item for the preservation of his identity, or character, so I decided to keep them. I did nothing with them for ages, they just followed me for a few years whenever I moved from one apartment to the next. Perhaps some strange sense of responsibility for another person seemed too burdensome, which was why I finally decided to pass the photos along. At the time it felt, at least in a way, like a big relief.

By the way, why did you want to have the albums?


24 November 2014 at 9.29 Mari Mäkiö <mari.makio@gmail.com> wrote:

Hi and thanks

I think what struck me initially about those photos was the idea that the albums were actually the only thing that was left of this guy’s life, and there was no one to remember him. And that by creating something out of those pictures I might fight against this meaninglessness or something. And of course I was also interested in what could be inferred of his life based on those three albums, which is why I asked various professionals to give their interpretations of them.

However, throughout this project I’ve constantly felt that I’m struggling between a kind of a voyeuristic interest and, on the other hand, a guilt from violating the limits of privacy. And having those albums has begun to feel burdensome to me too, and I’m wondering what should I do with them.


Mari Mäkiö (b. 1982) will graduate this spring from the photography degree programme at Aalto University. Her media include photography, video, sound, text and installation. The content of (a) life includes contributions from writers Anna Kortelainen and Maria Peura, private detectives Pentti Lintunen and Susan Aerts-Lintunen, poet Kasper Salonen, screenwriter Anna Ruohonen, and doctor of medicine Amos Pasternack. (a) life is the creative part of Mäkiö’s MFA thesis for Aalto University.

The production of the work was generously supported by the Promotion Centre for Audiovisual Culture.


Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Yrjönkatu 8–10 courtyard, 00120 Helsinki, Finland
+358 9 612 33 44, www.hippolyte.fi
Tue–Fri 12–17, Sat–Sun 12–16