Manliness is perhaps more complicated and multidimensional than ever before. How is “man” and “manhood” appeared and experienced in our time? The topic is approached by five artists who through their works examine the subject of masculinity. The themes vary from dreams and permissible emotions to community and the power of nature.
Marttikerho, the group assembled for this exhibition, consists of photographic artists Kenneth Bamberg, Mikko Haiko, Aukusti Heinonen, Teemu Lehmusruusu and Karoliina Paatos. The group has gathered together regularly during the year and discussed the theme. All the artists have researched the topic from their own point of view, supported by the joint dialogue.
Kenneth Bamberg’s work is founded on the hockey card collection from his school years. Collecting the cards opened a fantasy world based on swapping, unwrapping the packages and possessing beautiful special cards. Bamberg’s hockey cards were sorted and put in order after the colours of the players’ kits. Collecting also reflected the need of making new friends. Almost everyone in the classroom – including some of the girls – collected those cards. Kenneth wanted to be the owner of the largest collection in order to win the respect of the “kings in the class” and charm the cutest girls.
Mikko Haiko’s photographic and video works are located in the Finnish countryside. “I have taken pictures of excavators, tractors and elk hunters. When I was a child I wanted to be a part of the group and chase the game. And I wanted to be a tractor man. Peijaiset, the celebration after a successful hunt, was a special occasion for me. I remember the snowy land, the blazes and the shed for skinning the animal. The tractor had to be Valmet because it simply was the best brand. I also learned how to play my father’s Russian accordion whose broken key I fixed with a rubber band. Accordion is quite a complex machine.”
Aukusti Heinonen’s works researches those features of masculinity that even today are considered infrequent or secondary: sensitivity and exposing the emotional moves. A piece of art combining images and words asks whether a crying man is still a taboo in our culture.
Teemu Lehmusruusu examines in his works people’s irrational relationship with the wild, simultaneously both benefiting and disputing the means of technology. The machine as a material object and the intangible memory trace encounters in his pictures. They function primarily as a reference of technical competition, often regarded as a part of masculine culture. On the other hand, they refer to the production of nature experience or emulating it with the help of technology.
Karoliina Paatos has taken pictures in Western United States for almost six years and travelled through the ranches to the outbacks to trace the cowboy culture. Nowadays she follows the lives of two girls growing up on a ranch in Nevada. She also shoots pictures of the participants in gay rodeos, both in the competitions and outside of them. “I am interested in the outsiders of this culture; women, children and homosexuals. Heroism and sensitivity, even vulnerability, the moments when time stands still, presence, ascetic landscapes, community and the bond between the human and animal play the key role in my pictures.
Thank you: Arts Promotion Centre Finland and National Council for Photographic Art, Arts Council of Helsinki Metropolitan Region and Swedish Cultural Foundation.
Meet the artists in the Man Cave pop-up cafe on Sunday 31 January from 3 to 5 pm.