Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Jorma Puranen

One of the exhibits at 'Borders' at the Byzantine Museum in Athens, was a photograph by Jorma Puranen which I found breathtakingly beautiful, so I had to find out more about him.

Jorma Puranen (b. 1951): Untitled, from the series Imaginary Homecoming.  1991, photograph (silver bromide print with selenium toning), 38 x 51.2 cm. Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art

This series of photographs is from Imaginary Homecoming which comprises a series of Lapp portraits photographed on glass negatives. He found them in the archives of the Musee d'Homme in Paris. 

He decided to implement an imaginary homecoming of the portraits and restore them to their original landscape.  He photographed the portraits again, printed them on film, attached the transparent portraits to acrylic sheets and transformed them into a fell landscape photographic installation.

Puranen wants to emphasize that the history of Lapland is also a history of power politics.
"This series is based on photographs of the Sami...Imaginary Homecoming is a metaphor. I try to put photographs found in archives back into the landscape...Narratives, stories and particularly histories related to the meeting of cultures provides much of the basis of my work as a photographer. Dialogue between past and present has come to be the main content of my working process".

In Shadows, Reflections,  Purnamen has photographed old bourgeois paintings in an attempt to awaken the past of the portraits' subjects.

It was while he was walking through the galleries of museums that he became interested in light  reflections on the paintings.

Jorma Puranen, Sixteen Steps to Paradise 42

Sixteen Steps to Paradise reflects Puranen's interest in light, the reflection of light and his desire to capture the branch of a tree, its shadow and reflection as the actual object of the photograph.

He photographs these works on black-painted glossy acryl sheets which he placed in his garden 16 steps from the entrance.

Icy Prospects is his latest work. For this project he painted a piece of wooden board with black, glossy alkyd paint, took it outdoors in winter and photographed the fragmentary reflection of nature on the board. The result was a series of extremely painterly, painting-like works in which the brushstrokes and the uneven surface of the board are mixed with the reflected subject. These "photograph paintings" are in the best tradition of romanticism and are breathtakingly beautiful.

Jorma Puranen, Icy Prospects 47

"The reflective qualities of the wooden boards' surface draw resulted photographs or Icy Prospects into a space between photography and painting. In this work almost hallucinatory visions are like the echoes of ancient expeditions  lost in the Arctic seas".


"I am reminded of the story about Turner, who had himself bound to the mast of a ship to experience the extremes of a storm in order to paint the world in a more credible manner".


"By contrasting landscapes of past and present, the photographs of Icy Prospects address the resources of photography to speak of the levels of memory and history. They also provide an expression of the sublime, the picturesque, the mysterious and the unknown".


"Icy Prospects is naturally related to a stage of studying art and culture in which questions concerning space, the landscape, have partly replaced the body as the locus of complex considerations of identity, cultural difference, marginality, etc. There is now simultaneous interest in contemporary art in both mobility and the attachment to a place. Narratives of place and unattachment now have a central role".


"Places, images, landscapes  and their images are also political metaphors. The Arctic is often associated with mental images  of something immense and  boundless, of endless distance. Images that in themselves are like an invitation to Otherness and Elsewhere".

"A voyage across the sea was an encounter with the unknown, both metaphorically and in practice. In many cases it also became the tool for the identification of one's own self".

"These photographs are paths, not a map. I am particularly in the resources of photography to speak of the levels of memory and history. By using an abundance of literary and visual historical pickings, I seek to create a fabric of encounters and connections, a matrix that I translate into images and narratives, a field of fantasy and imaginings".

"In Icy Prospects the possibility of direct viewing is completely denied. What we see is a mere reflection of the landscapre/seascape on the surface of black glossy board".

"Jean-Luc Goddard said that 'the photograph is not a reflection of reality but the reality of that reflection'."



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