Marjukka Vainio 

Marjukka Vainio's photographs are very poetic and highly aesthetic. They document the silent world of plants that the artist has focused on for the last two decades, a world of beauty but also of accelerated cycles of life and death. 

In her photographs, Marjukka Vainio shows us the various stages of plant life, from sprouting through blossoming and decomposi­tion, as well as composite details of individual plants, from flow­ers to leaves, seeds, stems and roots. Working within the plant microcosm, Marjukka Vainio creates a pictorial universe from that which usually goes unnoticed and thus remains invisible. 

Like her famous predecessor Karl Blossfeld, she isolates her plant subjects on a neutral background before taking her photographs. Her plants are, however, not architectonic and staid in appearance. They lack the heraldic appear­ance of Blossfeld's subjects, and her use of colored backgrounds and iridescent light gives her photographs a distinct painterly quality. Marjukka Vainio's photographs represent a silent world, fragile and temporary, very different from Blossfeld's images in which the plants seem to be cast in stone. 
Very interested in the alchemy of photography, Marjukka Vainio uses the negative as well as the positive method to make photographic images. With the latter, the photographer does not use a camera in order to fix the image on a negative but rather "paints" directly on photographic paper with chemicals and light Marjukka Vainio has perfected this technique, developed in the early days of photography's history, by the use of color and various chemical procedures of which she is the inventor.

This text was first published in The Helsinki School. A Female Gaze, Vol. 4 (Hatje Cantz 2011).