Veli Granö Manifesto 31.1.–23.2.2020

Photographic Gallery Hippolyte

Veli Granö’s Manifesto—a study of politically motivated violence.

We live in a historic time marked by uncertainty. We see signs of a change of spirit around us: consensus-seeking societies are increasingly politically divided. When everyday things become politicised, friends turn their backs on each other. Similarities with Europe of the 1920s cannot go unnoticed, marked by the characterisation of internal divisions within countries, nationalism, and the rise of the far-right as a political force.

Granö’s installation-exhibition features Kirlian photographs, alongside glass and ice sculptures, which informs his way of moving through the complex frontiers of documentary and experimental expression. Some of the photographed objects on display are related to the history of Finnish political violence, and the objects in question have been selected from the collections of Finland’s National Bureau of Investigation’s Crime Museum.

Granö has used a very rare, high-powered Kirlian camera to produce photographic works for the exhibition. Kirlian images are classified as high-voltage photos, and even the first electrographic photographs taken by the Polish inventor Jakub Jodko-Narkiewicz (b. 1848) highlighted the potential of this technique to depict phenomena invisible to the human eye. Named after a Soviet electrical engineer Semyon Kirlian and his wife Valentina Kirlian, the photographic method generates of each object a varying glowing form. A unique imprint is created when a subject placed on a photographic plate is exposed to a strong electric field. The technique, also called an “X-ray of a soul,” is said to bring out the “aura” of living and inanimate objects. The energy streams of the subject appear as luminous swirls on the image’s surface, possibly revealing its “soulful state”. In reality, the radiant patterns are formed as a result of electrical coronal discharge.

Just as the Kirlians used the method to offer diagnoses in Soviet hospitals, Granö seeks to uncover something hidden in the subjects of Kirlian images. Maybe with Kirlian technology, something unpredictable emerges from the objects and the invisible reality that surrounds them?

Veli Granö’s impact as a contemporary artist spans his decades long practice. He works with photography, installation, and film, and in his works, he often addresses the theme of alternative realities. Manifesto is a continuation of Granö’s earlier production, where he has given voice to different ways of seeing and experiencing. Granö is a photographer by training (Lahti Institute of Design, 1986). He has taught photography, installation art, experimental film expression, and visual design at numerous art schools, such as Aalto University’s School of Arts, Design, and Architecture, the Academy of Fine Arts, where he also worked as professor of Time and Space Arts in 2011 and from 2014-2017. Since 1983, his works have been extensively featured in solo and group exhibitions, biennials, and festivals in Finland, Europe, and the United States.

In media
Helsingin Sanomat
Ny tid


Veli Granö
Photographic Gallery Hippolyte
Open: Tue-Fri 12-17, Sat-Sun 12-16

image: Veli Granö, Isäni käsi. Hän oli syntynyt 1933, 2004/2020
exhibition images: Milla Talassalo