February 2009 Purdy Hicks Gallery is proud to present the first London solo exhibition by Finnish photographer Jorma Puranen whose distinguished career has included a long tenure as Professor of Photography at the Helsinki School of Art and Design and a number of international solo exhibitions with accompanying monographs. Puranen’s work is held in most of the major international photographic collections and he is the subject of a forthcoming monograph that will be published in 2009.
The exhibition will present work from two recent series. Icy Prospects addresses notions of memory and history as the camera captures a reflected image of the landscape. The idea of Icy Prospects came from reading histories of polar expeditions. The Arctic is often associated with an idea of immensity, infinity and distance that is an invitation to discover Otherness and Elsewhere. Journeys across the sea are always both metaphorically and meteorologically an encounter with the unknown. Icy Prospects is associated with concepts of space, mobility and distance that have emerged in cultural studies as the works capture something that is between the past and the present. These photographs prevent a direct admiration of the landscape by putting something between the viewer and the object. In this case what we see is a reflection of the landscape/seascape on the surface of a glossy wooden board. The reflective qualities of the board result in photographs of a space that lies between photography and painting. In this work almost hallucinatory visions are like the echoes of ancient expeditions lost in the Arctic seas.
Where compasses all go mad reanimates Arctic explorations through the use of different archival material. Puranen has re-photographed historical photographs and other visual material related to heroic Arctic expeditions. In this series Puranen combines three different interests. Namely, his long-term work in the Arctic, his interest in the archive, and the use of reflected light as a metaphor for speaking of history and memory.
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