Jaana Partanen: Mielen alkemiaa – Harry Potter layer

19.01.2013 - 24.02.2013

What comes up when an artist combines art and science to delve into the human mind?

Jaana Partanen’s exhibition Mental Alchemy – Harry Potter Layer at Northern Photographig Center is concerned with the riddles of the human mind and consciousness. Like the series of films from which the exhibition takes its name, the works on display address questions that have always fascinated us: Is there something mysterious and eternal lying behind our visible world? Can human beings have inexplicable powers? Can there exist alongside our ordinary everyday world an invisible level on which the supernatural can become quite natural?

Jaana Partanen has approached her subject in the manner of a scientist, but presents her results, discoveries and new ideas through the language of art. As part of the background work, she has interviewed specialists in medical science, brain research and alternative medicine and then filled out the opinions expressed by them with experiments of her own. The project has involved the participation of people engaged in studying their own brain, scientists and specialists in brain research, and one of the elements contributing to the exhibition is a set of views of the human body and brain produced by confocal microscopy and brain scanning.

The 3D photographs in this exhibition employ a technique that literally adds new dimensions to them. The works on display are outwardly photographs but the pictures they provide are seen in three dimensions and even appear to move as you look at them from different angles. The viewer is thus faced with a series of fairytale portraits of people who have become acquainted with an invisible world. Altogether, the exhibition comprises a multilayered media experience in which Jaana Partanen deploys scientific images with the freedom of an artist. There is also a musical documentary that explains how the whole exhibition was brought about and what took place behind the scenes. The works themselves are complemented by interviews with the subjects of the photographs that one can listen to either in the exhibition itself or on the artist’s web pages.

To hear about the background to the exhibition and listen to a journey in sound into the world of the human mind (Finnish), consult:

Jaana Partanen is born in 1967. Partanen studied photography, cinema and pictorial art at the

University of Art and Design, Helsinki. For more than 15 years she has been holding

exhibitions of her own and taking part in joint exhibitions and festivals. Venues for

her private exhibitions include the likes of The Finnish Museum of Photography as

well as numerous art museums throughout Finland and Sweden. Works by Partanen are to be

found in many public art collections.


Partanen´s previous exhibition trilogy Everyday Alchemy toured extensively. Her

work has been seen in e.g. Iceland, Russia and Germany and various locations in

South Africa, Spain and Latin America. In addition to her photographic and video works which explore artistic possibilities of new technologies Jaana Partanen has produced numerous large-scale artworks for public places.


Partanen is also the artistict director of architecture, art and design studio Partanen & Lamusuo Ltd. In 2010 they created the immense media artwork for the Finnish Pavilion at Shanghai Expo 2010 which attracted more than 5.7 million visitors.


For more information on Jaana Partanen’s artistic work, see: www.pa-la.fi, artblog.pa-la.fi

Press photo: Jaana Partanen, Mental Alchemy – Harry Potter Layer