Marko Hämäläinen: Shape – rapture and shame

02.03.2013 - 28.03.2013

”I had been skiing as fast as I could for the past five kilometres; I even passed a couple of boys from the nearby village.  My earlobes and fingers felt tingly in the freezing cold weather, breath steamed in the chilly air. Finish line behind me, I leaned on my knees. I could taste the blood in my mouth. My primary school teacher Anneli gave me a metal mug filled with boiling hot berry juice. I was panting. While sweat was dripping from my hair, I walked into Syvälahti School. Someone gave me an orange plastic plate, full of thick pea soup. I was holding back my urge to vomit. Someone came in and said I was third. A nickel silver spoon, I thought. I was happy.”

Human beings are born to move. This is a starting point, which is proved by biological and historical facts. In the old days moving was a necessity; today it is one of the cornerstones of health, and a recommended hobby. Exercising and sport form a culture and everyone has some type of connection to it, often a passionate one. Many people experience the joy of exercise and its sustaining powers. On the other hand, many of us have bitter memories of compulsive performing. Happiness and demoralization, ON and OFF. Today, sports are often strongly target-oriented; there is a specific need to perform something. One has to run a marathon, be in great swimsuit shape within a month, one has to surpass oneself. Exercising for fun is not trendy; one has to have a goal. That entails a danger that all joy of exercising is lost and exercising stops completely. One should not forget the meaning of play and playful competition in sports hobbies. Even if one trains extremely hard most of the time, it is wonderful just to enjoy whatever you are doing.

My Kunto – haltioitumista ja häpeää (Shape – rapture and shame) photo exhibition studies Finnish fitness training from various angles.. When people hear the word “a run”, one thinks of the hideous duties of school PE and endless feelings of inadequacy, another feels a flush pleasure in his body.  This exhibition explores a national trauma, but also that great joy many people experience while exercising. Sweaty people make an appearance in front my camera in the afterglow of physical exercise. Fields and pitches photographed at night provide the spectator with a chance to go into raptures or be ashamed.

Marko Hämäläinen is a Muurame-based photographer, documentary maker and teacher of photography. In his earlier exhibition he has studied different social themes through marginal representation. Hämäläinen’s work has been displayed in Finland and Europe.

Press photo: Marko Hämäläinen, Shape – rapture and shame