/ Niina Vatanen / Photo story

Archival Studies / A Portrait of an Invisible Woman

Archival Studies / A Portrait of an Invisible Woman is based on the photographic archive of the Finnish amateur photographer Helvi Ahonen. The Helvi Ahonen collection, housed at the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki, consists of approximately 5,000 black/white and color negatives. The archive spans Helvi Ahonen’s adulthood, from the 1940s to the 1980s.

Based on this photographic archive, Vatanen creates a new work—a kind of imaginary museum laboratory in which fictive elements become mixed with archival material. She uses her works to discuss photography and archiving in terms of processes, randomness and errors. By focusing on the materiality of the photographs, Vatanen frees the medium of outside references. The photographic surface as well as the act of looking thus comes into focus as an essential part of the photographic image.

Niina Vatanen (1977) is a visual artist based in Helsinki. She graduated from the department of photography at the University of Art and Design in Helsinki in 2008. Vatanen has published two books in collaboration with a German publishing house Kehrer Verlag: Archive Play (together with Hertta Kiiski) in 2014 and A Room’s Memory/Huoneen muisti in 2013.