Nine Nameless Mountains is the title of a work from the FinnishMaanantai Collective belonging to the young generation of artists representing the photographic phenomenon referred to as the Helsinki School.
The Collective was established in 2011, taking its name from the word Monday (maanantai in Finnish), i.e. the day on which its members – students of the Photography Faculty at the Aalto University – organised their weekly informal meetings. A year later they set off for Norwegian Loften islands aiming to create a joint project based on the assumption that the Maanantai Collective was one artist with sixteen eyes. This is when they created the ‘Nine Nameless Mountains’ series, which is a collection of observations, a record of activities, a kind of a journey diary, utilising analogue and digital photography, video stills, drawings, or mobile phone shots. It resembles a collection of specimens and observations meticulously recorded by a nineteenth century discoverer, but with the magnifying glass being replaced with intuition and personal experience as the main tools and objects of exploration. In 2013 the “Nine Nameless Mountains” project was published in the form of a book awarded with the Best German Photobooks 2014. (At Monopol Gallery we shall present both the series of original works and the publication)
Apart from the joint work of the Maanantai Collective, we shall also present individual output of three of its members.
Tanja Koljonen takes photos of excerpts from texts, and some tiny, accidentally found items bearing visible signs of wear. Fascinated with poetry, she explores the meaning of words and objects, or adds new sense to them. The artist immortalises images of threadbare cards that have not been played with for a long time, or empty slide frames with partially blurred descriptions. This is her way of asking questions about the essence of images, texts, passing, and memory, by referring, among others, to the Rene Magritte’s “This is not a pipe” (Ceci n’est pas une pipe, 1929) declaration.
Before graduating from the Photography Faculty in Helsinki Maija Savolainen studied Biology, which is why – as she admits herself – she treats photo camera as a scientific device and a tool to create illusions. This allows for creating works that challenge the objective perception of reality, letting the imperfections of our senses to discover its new aspects. In the “Paperworks (See/Sea)” series, the artist uses the mechanism of memory identification of well-known images: it turns out that the nostalgic image of the seas and the sky crossed by the skyline is just an illusion obtained by means of very simple means.
Mikko Rikala’s works refer to cyclical processes of nature, such as the Moon’s trip around the Earth, ice freezing and thawing, the death of plants. He pictures what is never-ending and repeatable, often juxtaposing photos from various stages of a given process to depict the scale of changes. This is his way of practicing conceptual meditation over such issues as movement, time, and distance in relation to processes which according to general understanding are deprived of the ultimate goal.
Hence, the presented artists draw inspiration from conceptual tradition first of all. Not only do they investigate the essence of the photo medium, but they are also trying to go beyond its framework: they explore photography as a carrier of other meanings than what a given picture features, they refer to poetry, employing intuition and memory.
The current of Finnish photography referred to as Helsinki School was established in the nineteen eighties, and from the very beginning was characterised by very broad stylistic and thematic spectrum. What artists representing it have in common is a very characteristic way of thinking about photography resulting from the curriculum based on conceptual reflection on the medium and the topic. A crucial change is the transition from photos of more documentary nature to something that is currently referred to as post-photography.
The exhibition has been prepared in cooperation with Taik Persons Berlin Gallery.