The following photographers have been included in the show; the number of images on view and their details are as follows:
- Joonas Alhava: 4 c-prints, Diasec mounted, all from 2006, either 74x59 or 49x40, all in editions of 5.
- Hannu Karjalainen: 3: c-prints, Diasec mounted, all from 2009, each 59x47, in editions of 5.
- Pertti Kekarainen: 2 c-prints, Diasec mounted, from 2004 and 2008, 77x49 and 77x71 respectively, both in editions of 5.
- Ola Kolehmainen: 2 c-prints, Diasec mounted, from 2006 and 2009, both roughly 80x105, in editions of 6.
- Anni Leppälä: 13 c-prints on aluminum, made between 2007 and 2010, in various sizes ranging from 8x11 to 43x32 (hung as a group salon style), all in editions of 7.
- Niko Luoma: 1 c-print, Diasec mounted, made in 2009, 67x55, in an edition of 5.
- Susanna Majuri: 2 c-prints, Diasec mounted, made in 2009, each 35x53, in editions of 5.
While it is perhaps foolish to attempt to draw sweeping conclusions from such a small sample of photographers, my takeaway is that the Helsinki School has absorbed many of the important lessons from Düsseldorf (large prints with glossy Diasec mounting, leading to a tangible "art" object quality on the wall, rather than the trappings of "old" photography), and applied them in a style less rooted in rigorous documentation, but altogether more loosely conceptual in nature. To the extent there are people or buildings in these images, they have been placed there with precision and premeditation; there are no "decisive moments" or chance events happening here. Each project is built on a foundation of challenging ideas: careful and tightly controlled explorations of photography and its relationship to perception, space, light, storytelling, and memory.
I particularly enjoyed Niko Luoma's image from his series Symmetrium, with its dense intersecting plaid of red and green lines, as once again (see the discussion of Thomas Ruff's recent show here), we are seeing a photographer using mathematical systems to consider the non-traditional boundaries of composition. And while I have written about Ola Kolehmainen's architectural images before (here), I think I saw and understood them more clearly in person; his work seems to be evolving away from crisp documentation of patterns toward something more minimal and obscure, using blurs and color to create more amorphous abstractions.
In truth, I found something of interest in all the bodies of work on display, from Joonas Ahlava's silhouettes to Pertti Kekarainen's spotted spaces, and from Hannu Karjarlainen's people covered in rubbery paint to Anni Leppälä's fragments of childhood memories and Susanna Majuri's ambiguous narratives. We see so much of a certain kind of American contemporary photography on display in this city (particularly narrative and emotive portraiture) that I think this work from the Helsinki School feels surprisingly fresh and different, with a bit more European (or Scandinavian) distance and intellectualism. As a sampler of photography with an alternate point of view, it's a terrific palate cleanser.
Collector's POV: The prices for the works in this show are as follows:
- Joonas Ahlava: $10000 for the smaller print, $19000 for the larger ones
- Hannu Karjalainen: $12500 or $13500
- Pertti Kekarainen: $14000 or $18000
- Ola Kolehmainen: $25000 or $31000
- Anni Leppälä: a range from $3000 to $6500
- Niko Luoma: $14000
- Susanna Majuri: $9500 each
Rating: * (one star) GOOD (rating system described here)
Through April 3rd
Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery
505 West 24th Street
New York, NY 10011