© Emma Sarpaniemi by Two Ways to Carry a Cauliflower
Every summer since 1970, over the course of more than forty exhibitions at various of the city’s exceptional heritage sites, the Rencontres d’Arles has been a major influence in dissiminating the best of world photography and playing the role of a springboard for photographic and contemporary creative talents.
Finland is very well represented by these four artists who are closely exhibited in the exhibition Søsterskap: Raakel Kuuka, Yeboyah, Emma Sarpaniemi and Lada Suomenrinne. The Søsterskap project highlights the crucial role played by several generations of photographers in the Nordic countries.
Contemporary Nordic Photography
3 JULY – 24 SEPTEMBER 2023
10.00am – 7.00pm
Søsterskap (Sisterhood) brings together photographers of different generations from the Nordic countries whose works, using approaches from documentary to conceptual, reflect the socio-political context of the welfare state. The exhibition explores the theme from an intersectional feminist perspective, giving voice to artists who embody a range of experiences and identities. The term ‘intersectionality’ describes how different social categories (including gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, class) interact and overlap, resulting in intersecting social identities that may be both empowering and oppressive.
‘The welfare state is a woman’s best friend’ is a feminist slogan, and this socio-economic system is often referred to as the ‘Nordic model’. Shared values such as openness, tolerance and the conviction that all people are equal are the prominent aspect of this model. By providing access to services such as day-care, healthcare, education and social security for all citizens, the welfare state is designed to ensure a high standard of living for all and reduce the gap between rich and poor.
The interplay between photography and this social democratic model is here seen as a key factor in defining the rich and multifaceted panorama of camerawork from the region, spanning from the 1980s up to today. The exhibition includes photographers based in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. It puts the model in sharp focus, while questioning certain aspects, harnessing photography to investigate the friction between the subjective, the collective and the political as it plays out within the welfare state. Family life, gender roles, labour, ethnicity and colonialism are some of the topics discussed in Søsterskap, which also considers the darker sides, based on exclusion and continuous economic growth that is accelerating the global ecological crisis.
CURATORS: ELINA HEIKKA, CHARLOTTE PRÆSTEGAARD SCHWARTZ, ANNA-KAISA RASTENBERGER, ÆSA SIGURJÓNSDÓTTIR, NINA STRAND, ANNA TELLGREN ET SUSANNE ØSTBY SÆTHER.