Jorma Puranen: Museum Meditations

Ars Nova
30.6.−8.11.2020

The photographic works of Jorma Puranen are a study in history, art, ethnography, anthropology and geography. His images dive deep into archived images and knowledge as well as the histories of our arctic regions. Our sense of cultural memory is explored through themes that span centuries. Puranen aims to unveil hidden histories, stories left in the margins and places that have been forgotten. At the same time the process of photography grounds his work in the present moment.

This exhibtion is presented on two floors and includes some of the artist’s most extensively developed series as well as recent works.

The first exhibition floor is about Museum Meditations. Working on archived information is one of the cornerstones in Jorma Puranen’s work. He is interested in studying the past and unearthing material from museums and other archives. He examines the material he has collected with an eye toward the ways in which stories are told and realities presented. Using photography, the artist deconstructs layers of memory and time inherent in historical images. The past and present are layered together in Puranen’s photos, creating new connections and associations.

Jorma Puranen does not document archived material as-is. His works often include an obstructive element in the form of light, a shadow or a reflection. These distractions are an approximation of the layers of history that change over time and may cloud our sense of reality.

The works shown on the second floor take us on the routs to north. The north has captivated Jorma Puranen for decades and defined much of his work. He undertook his first photographic expedition into Lapland in the 1970s. The mythical northern wilds, the histories and cultures of the arctic and the identities of those who inhabit it are all included in a number of Puranen’s extensive series.

Using historical and ethnographical material, Puranen has illustrated the ways in which outsiders have encountered and viewed the northern landscape and its minorities. These works offer a sensitive view on power, colonialism and the fantasies invoked by the picturesque north.

Jorma Puranen (born 1951) has worked in photographic art since the 1970s. His career has brought him much international attention. His most notable series, including Imaginary Homecoming, Icy Prospects and Shadows, Reflections and All That Sort of Thing have been exhibited time and again in Finland and abroad. Puranen’s works are included in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, Moderna Museet, the Stedelijk Museum, the Biliothéque Nationale in Paris and more.

The exhibition is supported by the Ministry if Education and Culture.

Jorma Puranen: Forest in Rain, 2013, 130 x 167 cm, pigment print
Jorma Puranen: Moonlit Route to Umivik Bay (woman from Tasiilaq), 2019, 72 x 60,5 cm, pigment print
Jorma Puranen: Icy Prospects 65, 146 x 180 cm, pigment print
Jorma Puranen: Shadows, Reflections and All That Sort of Thing 53, 2010, 98 x 78 cm, pigment print
Jorma Puranen: Up to the Lappish Mountains, 2015, pigment print, Diasec, 58,5 x 80 cm
The artist Jorma Puranen in his exhibition Museum Meditations. Photo Jari Nieminen.