Pekka Elomaa and the Lyhty Ensemble

These pictures were created in collaboration with Lyhty association’s workshops. The project has been carried out in cooperation with Temporary Housing and Workshop Association Lyhty of Helsinki. The ethical goal of Lyhty is to promote the well-being of developmentally disabled people, their families and society as a whole.

The exhibitions Lähes täydellinen (Almost Perfect, 2002), Oikealla planeetalla (On the Right Planet, 2005) and Anna mun olla (Let Me Be, 2008) have previously been produced with the same group.

Nice to Meet You Mr Holbein is inspired by the portraits of the Renaissance painter Hans Holbein the Younger (1497 –1543), whose accurate observations of people with their pensive gazes, fine facial details and depictions of materials fascinated the photography group. Starting in 2009 the series has grown to include animated portraits. Work on the series goes on.

 

 Anastasia, 2011

Anastasia, 2011

The Art of the Unintentional

It is hard to set up a tripod. It has three legs and many other moving parts. It is rally hard to screw the camera onto the tripod. There are six of us — men — in a narrow conference room. We are setting up a studio for the purpose of taking portraits again. We manage to set up the tripod and the backdrop, though it gets crumpled and creases show in the photographs. In the corner there is a paper bag full of old clothes, silk and velvet scarves, definitely fashions of yesteryear. There are a couple of suit jackets salvaged from a flea market.

Everything looks mysterious in the dim light of the studio. Juha Ruoho has found an old teddy-fleece coat for the winter. Its large buttons are like the unmatching eyes of an owl. It’s a finelooking costume, but Juha’s long hair is in a mess. Markus goes out to supermarket to buy a comb. The hair is combed and the picture is almost done. Heikki, lost in thought, walks through the picture on his way to the toilet, stops in the middle of the picture and bows politely. Plastic rings and beauty-shop jewellery glimmer beautifully in the light of the flash. In the picture, Juha is like a princely noble who has gambled away his fortune but kept his pride. We photograph Heikki and the rings after he has been to the toilet. The picture does not seem to succeed. Juha wants to present a dead man wearing a fur coat. Aunt Lempi’s linen sheet is spread out on the table. The folds of the sheet, burnished over the decades, shine like sharp cuts. In his fur coat, Juha looks more like sick bear cub than a dead person.

The situation gets out of hand. The sword of a Christmas play waves about in the air. Everyone wants to take a turn at lying on the table. After the chaotic photography session, Pekka Valle’s smiling dead man is the most convincing one. What a coincidence that he put red underpants on today. For the six of us, photography is a substitute for speech and an extension of memory. We use it tell tales and, with a camera, we dare to set out to strange places and the company of strangers. Photography is a serious matter. After a three-hour session, we have at least two pictures, one of Juha and one of Pekka. Heikki has to be photographed later, in a calmer situation. Dismantling the tripod is almost as difficult as setting it up.

 

 Pekka, 2011

Pekka, 2011

 Juha, 2011

Juha, 2011