Jorma Puranen | Icy Prospects

Opening: 06 September 2019, 6-9 pm
07 September – 22 November 2019

The Arctic is often associated with an idea of immensity, infinity and distance that is an invitation to discover Otherness and Elsewhere. It likewise becomes an instrument for the cultural definition of self. "Icy Prospects” is associated with new concepts of space, mobility and distance that have emerged in cultural studies. I was interested in the possibility of a cultural space created by different fates, places, histories and encounters, a fictive historical world. "Icy Prospects” is a kind of fabric of facts, fantasy, geographical imagination and intellectual landscapes.’

-Jorma Puranen

For the inaugural exhibition of Persons Projects at its new premises Lindenstr. 35, we are proud to present Icy Prospects a solo show by Jorma Puranen.

Puranen is one of the leading artists in the Nordic region who uses photography as medium of choice for the past 40 years. In his Icy Prospects series beginning in 2005, Puranen creatively merges a mixture of mythology, history and the Nordic fascination that surrounds the notion of polar exploration and the North Pole into his dream-like landscapes. His images reflect a place that is borderless, floating in time, a reminder to the immensity of the unknown that is associated with life above the arctic circle. Puranen states "for fifteen years I have been engaged in landscape projects in which I have prevented direct admiration of the natural scenery by putting something in between the viewer and the subject”. With Icy Prospects, Puranen captures these dream-like melting landscapes by masterfully using an elevated hand held painted lacquered wooden board, which he then photographs as it mirrors the image it’s reflecting. This technique of painting and lacquering on small wooden boards, was commonly used as a means for preserving and documenting polar explorations in the 18th century. Puranen has written: "Photography’s capacity to register reflections is actually its singular gift. What other medium deals so expressively with the play of light and shadow ? By contrasting landscapes of the past and present, the photographs of Icy Prospects address the resources of photography to speak of the levels of memory and history.” His interest in using archival materials combined with their layered stories, narratives and overlapping cultural meeting points has been the central theme of Puranen works from the beginning of his career. He creates a matrix that translates itself into a visual field of fantasy that invites the viewer to a place of otherness and elsewhere.

Jorma Puranen has been a professor at Aalto University and a world touring lecturer. He is one of the most important first generational artists from the Helsinki School, as well as one of its founding fathers. His vision, influence and mentoring have been essential cornerstones in sustaining the contextual level from which the Helsinki School was built.

Jorma Puranen (born in 1951, lives and works in Helsinki), has become known for his works that arouse considerations spanning the past and the present. His subject matter has ranged from illustrations of scholarly works and ethnographic photographs to historical portraiture, which points of departure are often found in archives or museums. His work is a part of renowed international collections such as, the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Maison Européenne de la Photographie (Paris), Hasselblad Foundation (Gothenburg), Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), among many others.