Ulla Kokki’s photographs and collages search for fluid moments when everything is changing—where it is no longer possible to stay the same. Her images make you realise how all moments are truly like this. They are interfaces between past and future, where the ‘now’ is like a spaceship or time machine carrying our movements through time. The images taken and collected by Kokki from her immediate surroundings and everyday life are not unlike those condensed visual memories one holds of powerful experiences— happiness, sadness, anger, pleasure. There are many moments around profound individual experiences, and the emotions associated certainly seep into them – but mostly, life is still primarily made up of those interstitial moments.
Observing and photographing one’s immediate environment means turning the gaze in a different direction than is often the case with photography. Ulla Kokki’s images look for what remains behind ordinary life—said to be nothing, or cannot be seen, without a conscious gaze. Recording daily life and ‘un-moments’ does not seek to survey its subject. Instead, it constitutes a way of photographing, where the impulse to pause and wonder changes things from ordinary to remarkable and from insignificant to meaningful. While we traditionally expect this particular containment of significance from the photographic image, the recording of little moments generates the potential for magic lurking behind the character of everyday life.
Ulla Kokki’s works also draw out connections outside our bodies and lives through everyday materials. Books act as bridges between time and place; images captured on daily walks record changes in the environment. The familiar elements in the photos remain closely interconnected to a changing world that in turn changes us. Hands, feet, paws, and leaves suggest personal, meaningful relationships within the images—an excavation of presence that changes what was just time and space into the moments that make up the experience of living. The surface and depth of plants, hair, skin, sand, and fur are reflected in the viewer’s body through embodied memories of how they feel to the touch, even if the mediator is just a gaze of a camera pressed onto a flat surface.
Ulla Kokki is a photographic artist based in Helsinki. She graduated with an MA in photography from the Aalto University, School of Art and Design in 2020, and as a visual artist (BA) from the Turku University of Applied Sciences’ Academy of Arts in 2015. Kokki has held solo exhibitions together with visual artist Johanna Heikkilä at Hippolyte Studio (2017) and Gallery Lapinlahti (2016) in Helsinki and Titanik Gallery in Turku (2015). She has participated in group exhibitions at, e.g. Lokal (2021) and Kosminen Gallery (2020) in Helsinki, in Keuruu Museum (2017) and Rauma Art Museum (2015). In February 2021, she spent a month in residency on Örö Island, in the Archipelago Sea National Park, Finland.
image: Ulla Kokki, A sketch of past, 2019
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