In Nelli Palomäki’s portraits a timeless quality is revealed. She is one of those rare photographers who have inherently found the ability to emotionally merge with the subject they’re observing. She combines her fiery spirit with her charm to create an environment of trust. It is through this bond that Palomäki is able to portray the innocence of her subject. These portraits seemingly emerge from the shadows in which they rest, pulling themselves to us through the gaze in their eyes. Diane Arbus and Francesca Woodman are all good examples of artists who, like Palomäki, have used their internal compass to navigate through the human spirit. Her portraits are self-portraits—reflections of momentary yet intense relationships that the photographer herself has constructed and nurtured. Every portrait is carefully planned and staged beforehand, an element of the accidental is always retained, thus animating the work with unforeseen results and revelations, and carrying a magic life of its own. Here, the act of posing presents a crucial moment, in Palomäki’s words, being "the moment when a person changes into an image.”
The Shared series explores the complex theme of siblinghood, decipherable in its powerful, dynamic manifestations of human relationships and familial bonds. The captivating portraits of this series focus on children and young adults as subjects, who are shown solemnly engaged in situations and constellations that reveal their identities as siblings; a shared identity shaped ambiguously by elements of togetherness and separateness alike.
Through her portraits, Palomäki aspires to capture these facets of shared siblinghood in all its physical, psychological, and emotional complexity.
The intensity of the moment shared with the subject controls the portrait. One is blind and lost without seeing one’s own appearance, the other desperately trying to reach the perfect moment. The complexity of portraiture, its greatest trap, eventually always lies in its power relationships. As viewers, in responding to the portrayed subjects who gaze at us tenaciously, vulnerably, we are also seeing Palomäki’s gaze, and sharing with her our own, thus becoming similar.