Joel Karppanen: Finnish Pastoral

08.09.2018 - 07.10.2018

Vernissage and book publication Fri 7.9. @5pm

The exhibition is opened by curator Veikko Halmetoja


There is nothing but silence
Everything else has its limits
Everything else has its origin and end
Everything else one can understand

– Uuno Kailas

Finnish Pastoral is a photographic work about perishableness and longing for countryside that a modern human has. This series by photographic artist Joel Karppanen examines the traces that the postmodern era has left on the countryside. In the core of his examination is Karinkanta village, located in Northern Ostrobothnia and inhabited by two hundred villagers. Karppanen has photographed the quiet everyday life of this village, which is also a second home for him, for two years in order to redefine his relation to countryside.

”Majority of the Finnish people have their roots on the countryside, if not one then at least three generations back. Be it the memories from grandmother’s home or the national romantic imagery, our vision of the countryside has become nostalgic. The unconscious longing for the countryside sticks hard on us. It is a state of mind written inside us, a vision of a peaceful asylum that has been forming over the course of the history of our nation; an emotional memory from a lost landscape.”

Karppanen paints a melancholic and perceptible panorama of a Finnish dream long gone. His photographs offer a window to another world, a possibility to see places usually unseen: wastelands and limbo, the ruins to come.

”While pondering the rupture of the countryside the idea of the liberating power of ruins by Georg Simmel has been my guideline. According to Simmel  the ruins help us to appreciate everything that is  incomplete, shapeless and what shatter[s] the frames." Once moving away from there could have been breaking the frames on the countryside, whereas nowadays staying there or starting a family might mean the same. This migration back and forth on the countryside, the merger of urban and rural as well as the change in business structures keeps the countryside under constant pressure.”

This series that is looking behind the stereotypes of national romanticism but is still aware of its paragons, is playing between realistic expression and nostalgic, meta-real aesthetics. In the end the stream of poetic photos grows to be nearly tragicomic, but always warm interpretation of circulation of life that respects its objects. Everything is only temporary. 

Joel Karppanen (b.1993) is a photographic artist originally from Oulu. He is focused on creating intimate and plumbing documentary photographic series. Karppanen is interested in common people and his works rely on societal realism and humanistic traditions of photography. Karppanen, absorbing influence from European cinema, aims at reaching the invisible magic of everyday life in his works. Karppanen was awarded with Nuori Sankari award by Jouko Lehtola foundation in 2017 as well as with Emerging Photographer Fund nomination by Burn Magazine. In the winter 2018 he won the New Photojournalist award in Finnish Photo Journalism competition.

Karppanen has had solo and group exhibitions in photographic gallery Hippolyte and Mänttä Art Festival. His works can be found in private and public collection, and his photos have been published also in international magazines. Finnish Pastoral published in Musta Taide series is his first photo book.


see also: 

Joel Karppanen: Ontuva sonni