Touching From a Distance

Touching from a Distance

Art Museum Gösta 13 June — 13 September 2015

How does a small town in Finland seem in the eyes of an outsider? A group of photographic artists photographed Mänttä for ten days at the end of September 2014. From these pictures, Ville Lenkkeri, who has a Mänttä background, has assembled Touching from a Distance, the Gösta Pavilion’s main exhibition of summer 2015.

Each of the artists undertook a personal project in which they reflected their encounters with the town through their working methods, backgrounds and outlooks. The purpose was to expose Mänttä to external eyes as well as to independent and innovative photographic analysis. There was no notion that artists should engage in window-dressing.

Some of the artists were Finnish, some came from abroad. To some, Mänttä was familiar from previous visits or hearsay; to some it was just like any small town among the host of small towns in the world. Some came to Mänttä with a prepared plan. Others wanted to photograph without a plan.

The artists of the Touching from a Distance exhibition are Roger Ballen, Elina Brotherus, Petros Efstathiadis, Aino Kannisto, Trish Morrissey, Esko Männikkö, Pekka Niittyvirta, Inta Ruka and Pekka Turunen.

A house inside a museum

In autumn 2014, Roger Ballen, who has something of a cult following worldwide, built an extraordinary installation in a abandoned house condemned for demolition. This installation has now been transferred in its entirety to Art Museum Gösta. Entitled Resurrected, the installation includes photographs in addition to the house.

Petros Efstathiadis has also worked among installations. He assembled devices and appliances from abandoned materials and photographed them. For Petros, they symbolise a small northern paper industry community that arose in the middle of the Finnish forest.

Touching from a Distance includes a video and photographs from women artists, who use themselves as the models of their images. The artists are Elina Brotherus, Aino Kannisto and Trish Morrissey. Each artist’s approach to and implementation of the theme is very different, however. Inta Ruka interviewed and photographed people whose family roots are in Finnish Karelia.

Esko Männikkö and Pekka Turunen are known particularly for their depictions of the life and people of Finland’s remote areas. Pekka Niittyvirta worked a lot in the evenings and nights, photographing the people he met by chance as well as the surprise encounters that led him to new places and situations.