Collective exhibition by the member of FíSL and their sister organization in Oulu Finland, Pohjoinen valokuvakeskus | Northern Photographic Centre.
The artists participating in the exhibition are: Anni Kinnunen, Agnieszka Sosnowska, Aishling Muller, Arttu Nieminen, Atli Már Hafsteinsson, Bjargey Ólafsdóttir, Bragi Þór Jósefsson, Charlotta Hauksdóttir, Christine Ghisladóttir, Díana Júlíusdóttir, Einar Sebastian, Ingvar Högni Ragnarsson, Janne Körkkö, Jóna Þorvaldsdóttir, Kalli Ómarsson, Kristín Bogadóttir, Kristín Sigurðardóttir, Maria Kjartans, Nina Zurier, Runar Gunnarsson, Sigga Ella, Skúta Helgasson, Stephan Stephensen, Stuart Richardson,Teija Soini, Þórdís Erla Ágústsdóttir, Þórdís Jóhannesdóttir..
Curator Mike Watson
The exhibition Hérna brings together 4 photographers from Finland, selected by curator Mike Watson on behalf of the Northern Photographic Centre with over twenty photographers from Iceland selected by the Icelandic Contemporary Photography Association (FÍSL) for a group show at SÍM’s Korpúlfsstaðir space. The show’s title (which in English approximately translates as ‘here and now’), chosen by FÍSL, gave the impetus for my own selection of Finnish photographers, and the final selection of specific works from the Icelandic participants. Following a period of intense isolation and closure due to the global pandemic, Hérna brings together artists from two similar yet very different countries to share in a consideration of what it means to be present, here and now. This undertaking could be considered
important not only due to the estrangement we have felt from our surroundings during successive lockdowns but also due to the general detachment from our present time and space that we collectively and individually experience. Due to what Baudrillard would term ‘hyper realisation’ we rarely find ourselves in the presence of unmodified nature, but instead exist within a mind of hall of mirrors reflecting facsimiles of reality.
The history of the world can be seen as the history of humankind's separation from nature in incremental stages from the earliest tool wielding and fire taming efforts, up to industrialisation and now the internet era. With increasing speed we experience a growing estrangement from nature and the real. In Iceland and Nordic countries we keep a closer link to nature than in many other territories, due to low population density. However, the high quality of internet access has an atomising effect on people already used to insular ways of living due to the extreme cold conditions and darkness in winter. As with anywhere, the contradiction of hyperconnectivity is that it tends to keep people separated from each other and from the natural world. Even palliative nature walks are punctuated by smartphone notifications and when (rarely) our devices are turned off our minds tend to wander to social media interfaces.
It is in these conditions that we emerge into a post covid world (the ‘new normal’) with a renewed intensity in our sense of questioning over how we got ‘here and now’. Or indeed, we might ask, ‘where is here?,’ and, ‘when is now?’. The photographs on display in Hérna capture individually and collectively the photographic quest to express a moment, though have been selected beyond this for their particular engagement with the nowness of our time and the way in which they locate the viewer in a vision of what Hérna might mean. From the transcendental quality of Anni Kinnunen’s Vanity, to the ethereal nightscapes of Bjargey Ólafsdóttir, to the cut up spaces of Charlotta Hauksdóttir’s photographic collage works, the attempt to locate ourselves in space is expressed with a unique personal voice. The photographs on display above all give voice to one of the main problems of our time—namely, that with smartphones, GPRS tracking and google maps we know where we are, we just can’t feel ourselves being there. As Skúta Helgasson’s lockdown selfies, and the lonely figures of Janne Körkkö’s Night river series attest, the awareness of our being in time and space (so essential to our wellbeing) require our coexistence within a community. Rebuilding that community starts here and now. —Mike Watson