Kaisu Häkkänen: Mad Johnson was here

19.09.2015 - 25.10.2015



Friday 18.9.

Artist talk @ 17

Vernissage @ 18


The works of Mad Johnson was here by Kaisu Häkkänen (b.1974) have been born during 2012-2015 while the artist has been working in a residency Lyset i Varanger in Vadsö. There is a twofold atmosphere in the pictures: they attract the viewer but can at the same time feel both scary and repulsive.

The series was born when Häkkänen read a name of a street wrong: Mads Johnsen’s gate became Mad Johnson’s street. Ever since a man called Mad Johnson has steered the artist along the North Cap and even further. Häkkänen has shot the series on different sides of the Varang peninsula between the years 2012-2013 and in the summer 2014 in Svalbard in Grumant and Barentsburg. This summer she has spent another residency period in Vadsø and finished the series.

”I work with a pinhole camera without a lens and the cameras I use are boxes made of carbon or wood. I use silver gelatine paper as negative. Working is slow and the ready photograph born with a little control – photographing with a pinhole camera in a society of fast tempo and device orientation is like being in a different reality.  The pinhole camera reduces the object and captures nothing functional, but on the other hand the meaning of the works is mainly born from what is left out. The broken and jagged print of the pinhole camera gives a lot of space for feelings and visions, and that to me is touching the innermost.

My intention is to show in the pictures what I see in my own ugly but beautiful way. I often photograph deserting landscapes and districts, peculiar or empty left buildings, isolation and bystanding. In places like these the most meaningful to me is everything that is not there anymore. Places are also interesting portraits of life lived and although the person is already gone, his voice is still heard.

To me making this series has meant moving outside maps, in places you can not say for sure exist. Mad Johnson for his part has turned out to be unreachable, although his presence is strong everywhere. Just as he would have just left the place.”

Kaisu Häkkänen lives and works in Ruokolahti. She has studied fine arts in Academie Minerva Beeldende Kunst & Vormgeving in the Netherlands. Häkkänen’s works have been exhibited in several solo and group exhibitions in Finland and abroad.

More information: kaisu(at)kaisuhakkanen.fi