Photography

Photographer Boris Mäemets

 

I went to see fashion photographer Boris Mäemets exhibition at Estonian Museum Of Applied Art And Design in September 2017. 

Boris Mäemets (1929) was fashion photographer during Soviet Estonia between 1959 and 1975. The beginning of his career started in the first advertising bureau of Estonia, after he had spend couple of years in Siberia because of resisting the Soviet occupation. Mäemets took photographs of exhibitions and interiors as well, but the main focus was in fashion. He signed a contract of Tallinn Fashion House, what published fashion periodical Siluett in 1967. In the beginning of 1970’s Siluett’s print run was more than 50 000 copies in Estonia and Russian edition ran to 300 000 copies.

Siluett included compulsory reverence to the Soviet ideology, but Mäemets’s photographs had clear propaganda about Western fashion and way of life. Photo shoots took place in Tallinn’s Old Town, natural settings, in front of modern buldings, various interiors and exhibition halls. Mäemets liked to shoot with Kodak’s wide film and one scene would usually take about 12 frames.

Vogue and other Western fashion magazines were purchased from antique shops and sent by relatives who had fled to the West. In Siluett they didn’t accept bold poses but Mäemets’ archive reveals that the expressive poses and models flirting with the camera was his main subject of interest. Mäemets preferred Helle Ryzhova and Faime Jürno from the fashion house’s models.

In 1975 Mäemets started take photographs to Leningrad’s fashion house where was offered better working conditions, professional studio. The exhibition “In front and behind the lens” showed photos that were published in Siluett and also photos what pleased only Mäemets. Photos tell a story of one of the most important eras of Estonian fashion.

 

Photographer Francesca Woodman

 

New year and finally new blog post! I visited in last September at The Finnish Museum of Photography, where was Francesca Woodman’s exhibition.

Woodman was an American photographer, who died by suicide just at the age of 22. She was born in 1958 and died in 1981. Woodman studied at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in Providence, Rhode Island and one year during studies in Rome, 1977-1978. She spoke fluent Italian, because her family has spent summers in Italy. She moved to New York City in 1979 and tried to get work from fashion photographers without result.

In late 1980, Woodman became depressed due to the failure of her work to attract attention and to a broken relationship. She survived a suicide attempt in the autumn of 1980, after which she lived with her parents in Manhattan. On January 19, 1981, Woodman died by suicide, jumping out of a loft window of a building on the East Side of New York. Her father has suggested that Woodman’s suicide was related to an unsuccessful application for funding from the National Endowment for the Arts.

During her short life Woodman created at least 10,000 negatives, which her parents now keep. Her parents also keep over 800 prints, of which only around 120 images had been published or exhibited as of 2006. Most of Woodman’s prints are 20 by 25 cm or smaller.

Exhibition’s theme in The Finnish Museum of Photography was “being an angel”. Inspiration to that were Duane Michals’ work where was features as blurring, angels and handwriting and the symbolic work of Max Klinger. Other influences to Woodman’s work were for example Gothic fiction, surrealism, André Breton’s novel Nadja, Man Ray and Deborah Turbeville. Woodman was exposed to In combining performance, play and self-exposure, Woodman’s photographs create extreme and often disturbing psychological states.

 

Yayoi Kusama

 

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Yayoi Kusama’s In Infinity exhibition in HAM, Helsinki Art Museum was one of the bests I’ve ever seen.

Yayoi Kusama is 87 years old japanese artist and writer. She has worked all her career with a wide variety of media, including painting, collage, scat sculpture, performance art, and environmental installations. Most of the artworks exhibit her thematic interest in psychedelic colors, repetition and pattern. Her art shows some attributes of feminism, minimalism, surrealism, Art Brut, pop art, and abstract expressionism, and is infused with autobiographical, psychological, and sexual content.

Kusama has lived in New York City in 1957-1972 in addition to Japan. Since 1977 she has lived in mental hospital by her own choice in Japan. She has obsession about dots and also phallus repeats in her work a lot. She paints still every day. My Eternal Soul series has been under the work since 2009 and first she thought that it would consists of 100 paintings, but when she has painted 100, she changed it to 1000 paintings.

Her installation where visitors of the exhibition can go in are so impressive, that I consider In Infinity one of the bests exhibition I’ve visited. Installations are also big fun for children. In the last summer there was Kusama’s installation also in Esplanade Park, where trees where covered with red and white polka dot fabric, what made park look happy even in rainy days.

Yayoi Kusama – In Infinity: 7th October 2016 – 22nd January 2017 in HAM.
HAM’s website: https://www.hamhelsinki.fi/en/
You can check more photos I took here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/98052824@N03/albums/72157675501378425

 

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