Wednesday, November 20, 2013

BEAUTY: Photography--Riitta Päiväläinen

Finnish photographer Riitta Päiväläinen uses clothing in her landscape photography to great effect. She is moved by the history that used garments present and she poses these pieces of clothing as though they are still being worn by their previous owners. Frozen into shape, or animated by wind and natural elements like tree branches, the clothing makes us think of lives gone by.

Her Artist Statement is informative and eloquent:

"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?

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 stories and personal histories connected with the clothes arouses my curiosity. The clothes remain silent withholding their secrets. Little by little, personal histories are absorbed into the collective history.

For me, a piece of clothing represents, above all, its former wearer. It tells you that somebody has been present. However, the person who wore it is now gone. The faded colours and tears in the fabric show the signs of the time passed. 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, for me, the subtle distinction between absence and presence."

Top to bottom: Chamber; Facade; Nest; Northern Wind; Pediment; Shelter; Vespertine II: Wind I; Wind II

Her photographic series reminds me of Christian Boltanski's installation Personnes, a project he created in 2010 for the Parisian art event Monumenta using fifty tons of discarded clothing.

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