The Helsinki School
Pediment © Riitta Päiväläinen
Obis © Riitta Päiväläinen
Shelter © Riitta Päiväläinen
Vespertine I © Riitta Päiväläinen
Vespertine II © Riitta Päiväläinen
Black Dress © Riitta Päiväläinen
Wind I © Riitta Päiväläinen
Wind's nest © Riitta Päiväläinen
Camouflage I © Riitta Päiväläinen
Camouflage III © Riitta Päiväläinen
Camouflage IV © Riitta Päiväläinen
Camouflage V © Riitta Päiväläinen
Northern Wind © Riitta Päiväläinen
Veil © Riitta Päiväläinen
Forest © Riitta Päiväläinen
Imaginary Meeting V © Riitta Päiväläinen
Imaginary Meeting VI © Riitta Päiväläinen
Imaginary Meeting XII © Riitta Päiväläinen
Vestige - Series
"Unwritten history, memory, landscape"
Several years ago, an old black dress made of velvet caught my attention in a second-hand shop. I examined the garment carefully. There was no label. The style of the dress was from the twenties. The seams revealed the dress was handmade. The owner of the shop told me that she had bought it in Paris. I tried the dress on and it fitted me perfectly. I became intrigued by the history of the dress. Who was the woman who had had the dress made? What was her life story?
Our daily life is full of history. I am fascinated by the history that you cannot find in library books, official files or archives. This "unwritten history" surrounds me all the time. I can feel its presence in various ways: as a rip in a coat; as a place worn thin in an armchair; as a light footprint on the inner sole of a shoe.
The main theme and primary driving force of my work is my interest in old clothing. In my photographs, I use discarded clothes from second-hand shops and flea markets. I am interested in old garments, because they carry silent, unknown stories and histories. The unavoidable fact that I will never know the actual story and personal histories connected with the clothes arouses my curiosity. The clothes remain silent withholding their secrets.
Who or what is historically remarkable enough to be recorded or remembered. As much as I need to remember, I need to be able to forget. The idea of having only "one historical truth" would not make alternative truths possible. In this sense, forgetting can be regarded as positive .
Instead of thinking what or who we have lost, I want, through photography, to concentrate on what is still to be found.
For me, a piece of clothing represents, above all, its former wearer. It tells you that somebody was present,but is now gone. The faded colours and tears in the fabric show signs of the passing of time . By freezing the garment or letting the wind fill it with air, I am able to create a sculptural space, which reminds me of its former user. This "Imaginary Meeting" represents, the subtle distinction between absence and presence.
In the series "Wind", "Structura" and "Camouflage" landscape plays an essential role. Landscape is not only a topographical, objective phenomenon. For me, it is personal and subjective. Working with a landscape means going into it: experiencing and sensing the place. When I place clothes into a landscape, I create an installation. In this sense, landscape can be considered as a stage. Bringing these two elements (landscape and clothes) together, I create a dialogue - an interaction. My aim is to suggest and bring forth potential stories, mental images and associations.
New Wave Finland: Contemporary Photography from the Helsinki School
January 24 - April 2013
Scandinavia House: The Nordic Center in America
58 Park Avenue, 38th Street
New York NY 10016