In the exhibition Fatal Departures, Jorma Puranen presents a series of photographic works that are part of his rich and extensive investigations of the Nordic, Arctic nature. Contemporary and historical landscapes are depicted in photographic images where stories of polar expeditions as a form of disguised colonialism quietly and poetically emerge. It is a recurrent theme in Jorma Puranen’s work for many years, investigated in various series and through various methods. Shimmering photographs of a mythical and supposedly exotic Arctic, where light and shadows are fused together in beautiful combinations, are different methods essentially used to convey ”nature” through different layers of meaning. Unreflective admiration has never been his intention, rather a reflection on the meaning of the image, context and history.
Jorma Puranen’s photographic approach is multifaceted. In series such as ”Icy Prospect” and ”Sixteen Steps to Paradise”, Puranen uses a varnished wooden board as an extra layer between viewer and nature, on which the ambient light and reflections are mirrored as mirages or hallucinations. In the exhibition Fatal Departureshis point of departure is instead based on photographic archives of older glass negatives. One such archive belongs to the Finnish photographer Daniel Nyblin’s (1856 -1923) outstanding documentation of Nordic landscape painting in the 19thcentury. Puranen focuses on the scarred and scraped glass surfaces, making the negatives themselves appear as tales in its own right. On the surface there are particles of dust still left, throwing shadows that form into small peaks. The negatives testify of an artistic craft from a bygone era in dialogue with Nordic nature and cultural heritage in our own time.
The many layers of hidden history, like forgotten places to which Jorma Puranen constantly return, re-appropriate and add his own comments, are a main theme in these works. Discovering the negatives and unveiling the secrets that are engraved is thus intertwined with his fascination of the northern, arctic nature. An enchanting game of light and reflection ties the photographs together.
Jorma Puranen (born 1951), belongs to one of Finland’s most prominent photographers with exhibitions at a large number of galleries and museums in the Nordic region and internationally since the early 1990s. He has worked as a professor at the University of Arts and Design in Helsinki. Puranen’s conceptual work with Nordic nature and history, as well as historical portraits depicted in intricate games of light and reflection, have attracted a great attention worldwide. In his work, photographic processes are researched through a constant and creative dialogue in between archives and reflections on our own time.