Helsinki School
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Nanna Hänninen


"Nanna Hänninen's minimalist photographs are dominated by the tension between the named and the unnamed, the visible and the invisible. Her works are aesthetically refined and delicate, cleared of noise and superfluous effects. One is prone to view Hänninen work as a purely formalist based photography. In the series "Fear and Security" however the artist reveals her obligation towards the social reality and her understanding of the psychological and mental mechanisms of society. Here as well the titles of the works are carrying sense, they are not just descriptive, but contain references to the artistic intention. Her works are both a commentary on the rational, functional society and at the same time a visualisation of the fundamental fear of anarchy within the system."


- fiedler contemporary, Cologne, Germany.


As Bruce Nauman has named one of his works The True Artist Helps the World by Revealing Mystic Truths (1967), I think that art can reveal some hidden truths and unspoken laws of society. In photography and art I am interested in tension between the rational, irrational, real and fiction, and the fact that photography maintains a relationship with the reality. I feel personal concern for our society and since photography has a tendency to tell the truth I like to use this fact as one method.

Sometimes I think of my images as a Diary of Concepts. They display some kind of philosophical thinking or tell stories (true or false) of systems and structures in society. I see great potential in small objects of everyday life, especially potential for understanding subject-matter in philosophical context. The presence of individuals and their achievements can be seen in my work even if they are not exactly shown. Objects and spaces need individuals or they remain only a mystical focus of great wonderment. Some of the landscapes and spaces are constructed and some are real, objects are found or partly self-made and some written words are added to those papers. Many images refer to order and chaos, speaking about the fear of losing control.

"Her images are unique; combination of strong emotions, cool intelligence and they are very analytical. Her works are extremely minimalist, simplified and crystallized. Pictorial elements are very trimmed; she composes her images almost from nothingness. The silence seems to scream forth and the strength of the images is huge. "


- Hannele Tikkinen, Art Critic, Savon Sanomat, Kuopio, Finland.


Minimalism and whiteness are visual methods, which have more references to symbolic or linguistic meanings (white paper, emptiness, infinity- society) than art historical references to modernist painting. The scale is obscure in my images. Their titles are often a mind game, in which the artistic approach crystallizes as a visual image; like horizon that gives a feeling of infinity is always just an optical illusion.

"Our lives are filled with emotional landscapes that are ever-changing. The road through that landscape runs between the need for security and the fear of not having it. Nanna Hänninen's photographs reflect an optimistic toughness that subjectively diffuses those internal perimeters that exist in choosing between pleasure and pain. Her work explores the fragility that lies within the choice. Together, these photographs work as a poem, focusing on their final angle of repose. " Timothy Persons, Director of Professional Studies, University of Art and Design, Helsinki, Finland

My most recent series of works "The New Landscapes" are landscapes or cityscapes, photographed in Jyväskylä, Kuopio and Helsinki (FI), in Brooklyn-New York (USA), in Zürich and Basel (CH), in Düsseldorf and various places (DE), and in Portugal in the Azores. The images are of famous metropolises or buildings, factories, cemeteries, airports - mostly strategically important places involving a mixture of lights in the scenery and a long exposure so that they become almost like short movies. The cityscape images are basically drawings of my body movements that can be seen on photographic material as rhythmical light lines. The images are divided into different surfaces, the abstraction and the pictorial surface, the human presence (breathing, heartbeat, laughter, talking, walking during the exposure time) and photography as media. The subject and the scenery melt into a single image. The subject is still strongly presented, whereas the object - the scenery- is estranged and thus becomes easier to deal with - even safer.

"The New Landscapes" follows my sociological interest in the individual; sensing, understanding and placing oneself in the outside world. There are conceptual similarities with my previous works on control and on the fear of losing control. "The New Landscapes" are an attempt to capture and control a possibly dangerous city at night from a distance. The alienation of the object and the aesthetic of emptiness are again present in my new images. The images have been reworked by computer.


Nanna Hänninen © 2006

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