Maija Savolainen, «Unwritten», 2016, diptych, pigment print, variable size
It is said that photography can stop time. The motion of the camera shutter slices moments in time exposed by light, which can be fixed on a light-sensitive material in a darkroom. As such, time is made to materialise on a photographic paper, from where it can later be examined in detail. What is seen in a photograph may at first sight appear as a landscape, person, or object, but what the picture is ultimately about is an event – a moment in time, at which light makes something visible.
In ancient Mayan cosmology, time was equated to life itself and the beginning of everything. Mayans conceptualised time and space by observing the movement of celestial bodies. In relation to this, architectural structures, such as monumental pyramid-shaped temples, were regarded as important observational instruments. In a similar manner Savolainen deploys the architecture of the gallery space of Studio17 in order to trace the movement of light.
Sheets of white paper and thin threads are laid out to mark the position, colour, and intensity of light. The empty papers fill with natural light and are coloured by it, while the threads roughly demarcate areas of light and shadow. They isolate light from their surroundings – like a camera shutter that sequences moments in time – and make it acquire a material form; for a brief moment that which is usually invisible and translucent becomes tangible.
The exhibition combines approaches to light and photography in an essay-like fashion. It is composed of photographs and site-specific installation. Together these elements create a digressive narrative that aims to challenging the singular perspective typically associated with photography.
Maija Savolainen (b. 1980 in Turku, Finland) is a visual artist working with photography and installation. She gained her Master of Arts in Photography from Aalto University in 2014. Her works have been widely exhibited, most recently in SIC gallery, Helsinki; Photographic Gallery Hippolyte, Helsinki; Fotografia Europea Festival, Reggio Emilio, Italy; L’institute Finlandais in Paris; Galleri Fagerstedt, Stockholm; Alte Markthalle, Basel; Uppsala Konstmuseum; Mänttä Art Festival, and The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki. Her photobook, titled When the Sense of Belonging is Bound to a System of Movement, won the Nordic Dummy Award in 2013 and was published by Kehrer Verlag the following year. In 2014 Savolainen was nominated for Fotofinlandia prize. Savolainen is a founding member of the Maanantai-collective.