35th Anniversary Exhibition at Photo North – Northern Photographic Centre
Artists: Juuso Noronkoski, Kukka-Maria Rosenlund, Emma Sandström & Stefano Conti, Ulla Schildt and Sheung Yiu
Curators: Dan Mariner and Marianne Bjørnmyr
For the occasion of the 35th anniversary of Photo North – Northern Photographic Centre, NOUA from Bodø, Norway has been invited to curate the anniversary exhibition. The curators Marianne Bjørnmyr and Dan Mariner are through the exhibition presenting five Finnish and Nordic artists that convey their ideas and concepts by pushing the boundaries of photographic imagery and presentation, incorporating cultural narratives prevalent in the North. New emphasis on surface, materiality and process has governed photographic production over the last decades, with the photographic message emerging as interaction between politics, technology and culture. With a focus on experience, consciousness and interaction, new dialogues emerge between the artist, imagery and audience.
Studies of the earth, science and explorative voyages into society are deeply rooted within Nordic culture and are still at the forefront of artistic commentary throughout the region. In January 1833 the Finnish poet Elias Lönnrot began compiling the Kalevala, a work of poetry compiled from Karelian and Finnish oral folklore and mythology, telling an epic story about the Creation of the Earth. Throughout his career Lönnrot made a total of eleven field trips around Finland within a period of fifteen years, with each trip yielding a large number of new works. The artists presented in the exhibition have themselves embarked on their own forms of field trips and are a representation of how today’s visual culture navigates explorations of land, scientific studies and heritage.
The artists Juuso Noronkoski (FI), Kukka-Maria Rosenlund (FI), Emma Sandström & Stefano Conti (SE/IT), Ulla Schildt (NO/FI), and Sheung Yiu (HK/FI) all share a common interest in perception and technology, natural spaces and cycles, observations and transformations in human history. By gathering and recording material, organising, monitoring and measuring, the artists are creating the unexpected, pushing the boundaries of the image. The photographic installations give us a fresh perspective on the north and the habitat that surrounds us – by subjecting us to repeated challenges to the photographic image through presence and absence, subtraction and addition.
The relationship between images, objects and time has a significant role in Juuso Noronkoski’s (FI) work. More specifically the moments when photographic images and sculptural objects, each with their own temporal qualities, form a common conversational space. In his work, photographs often take sculptural form. Therefore the focus is set somewhere beyond the photograph: in a moon appearing at the other end of a cone shaped photograph or in a hole burned over the image of the sun by a magnifying glass. His practice tends to focus on the ontological nature of images: how images exist, where they exist and how the material body of the photograph ties the image in actuality.
In her practice Kukka-Maria Rosenlund (FI) combines photography with material-based work—for example ceramics and textiles—in which she examines the passage of time, girlhood, and the desire for freedom through physical memories. The transfer of a photograph onto ceramics is a multistage process involving the corporeality of working with hands. Rosenlund likes the uncontrollable twists and traces of touch, which happen during the work and remain visible. The work Syli, presented in the exhibition, was created between 2020-2022 in Finland and Andalusia, Spain. In Finnish syli means being surrounded or wrapped around something. Syli is a temporary and momentary touch. Much of Rosenlund’s work feature objects referring to the garden and domestic space. Subjects appearing in the work—horses, plants or turned-away characters—are based on physical memories from childhood to adulthood.
Emma Sandström and Stefano Conti
In I am forever realising things too late, pt II (2021) presented in the exhibition, Emma & Conti investigate the leading role that archeology and archives play in historical narratives—where the line between real versus fictional overlaps. For the work, they documented a found ceramic object and sent it to an archaeologist for examination. Based on the information they received in return they used photogrammetry* to create three new shapes in collaboration with a software that could indicate the original purpose and shape of the artifact. Further, the work I can hear them chirping (2021) reflects on the multiple retranslations of the original data in a museum context—probing at the cultural stratification of a narrative set in an institution environment. Emma & Conti communicated remotely with the director of the Museum of World Cultures (Castello d’Albertis), Dr. Maria Camilla de Palma, and in an exchange of emails, the artists asked the director to choose and describe objects from the museum collection. The outcome is a creation of concrete objects in postcard format, where Emma & Conti use its symbolic, historical, and cultural value as a starting point. In connection to the postcards, and by extracting text excerpts from the director’s emails, the artists composed poetic and abstract sound pieces. The audio can only be accessed from a QR code situated on the back of the postcards.
*the technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images
Through photography Ulla Schildt (FI/NO) explores questions concerning the psychological understanding of nature that we carry within us, reflecting on The North as a geographical, political or symbolic concept. The work Elugelab (2022), presented in the gallery, reflects on the Anthropocene, and the traces found in the world’s rock layers. When the Americans pulverized the tiny pacific island of Elugelab with the world’s first hydrogen bomb in 1952, small amounts of radioactive waste drizzled throughout the entire planet and are be visible in the geological layers and our environment—forests, coral reefs, ice—for hundreds of thousands of years. Further, the series Stargazers (2022) is taken on a radar station outside the Norwegian settlement of Longyearbyen in Svalbard. The station, established in 1996, has more than 90 antennas today and delivers earth observation data and services to a wide range of customers. As a part of a necessary observation system it can also be seen as a metaphor for human faith in technical innovation and possibilities. The work Untitled bird study (2020) can be seen as metaphors for human anxiety over everything we are unable to control and helpless at regulating: climate change, population growth, war, and natural disasters. As wild and eager animals seagulls are impossible to master.
Powered by advanced imaging technologies and algorithms, seeing is more abstract than ever. The work Ground Truth, or How To Resurrect A Tree (2021) by Sheung Yiu (HK/FI), interweaves archival imagery, documentary photography, experimental dataset and artistic work designed to acquaint the reader with the complexity of seeing in the age of algorithms. Equipped with the power of computation, photography and hyperspectral imaging, a group of scientists in Finland set out to overcome the spatial resolution limit of satellite imagery. Yiu’s project explores cutting-edge imaging techniques of forests while looking back at photography’s love affair with natural landscapes. Using meticulous on-site measurements of physical structures and spectral properties of trees, researchers develop reliable predictive models. Ground truth data is often compared to experimental results to verify the performance of a model. A successful model allows us to distinguish various features of the Earth beyond what is shown optically in a satellite image. A computer-aided vision grants us the ability to exceed the resolution limit of the extraterrestrial apparatus, to resurrect a tree from the data collected by satellites.
New North – New Perspectives
Photo North – Northern Photographic Centre, gallery & Valve gallery
Download the press images from here.