UNITY – Self-Sense

Our cultural and ethnic heritage, our sex, our body – they play a role in defining who we are.  

We are affected by the things around us, and our identity and sense of self are molded throughout our life. Our experiences develop the way we see ourselves and the way others see us, too. These ways of seeing can be ones of belonging, alienation or disapproval.  

This collection of works incorporates the notion of contoured cultural identity and intimate experiences.  

That creepy clitch is in your head, not in mine by Isa Kiviaho


This triptych researches the madonnawhore -complex. People who suffer this complex divide women into two categories. The first of which are the saints and the pure madonnas – those relatable to their mother. The other is the prostitute, the wild and sexual woman that is seen as dirty. These two extremes are the ultimate worsts of female representation and set tight frames for women and their behaviour in this society. Giving women a picture of what they are meant to be by cutting from their inner sensitivity and sexuality and blocking something from their inner power. This can and has caused harm and dissonance to women in the past.

This work is an ode to women, saying that they can be everything that they want to be. The triptych plays with soft symbols and the typical cliches of desires.

Purple Perspectives by Gabriella Presnal

Acrylic on cardboard / 42 x 59,4 cm

What started as a simple self-portrait, turned into a piece of self-reflection on the artist’s own identity and their perceptions of them-self. Purple represents many things in the artist’s life and it feels symbolic to represent themselves in this monochrome painting, surrounded and having to confront this color. Personal self-reflection is not a big topic in Presnal’s work usually, so to them this was a change. For Presnal, purple represents coming from their mom (who is “red”) and their dad (who is “blue”). As Presnal is Finnish American, a middle child, bisexual*, and non-binary*, to them, purple feels like the color of being “in the middle” of everything and of trying to find balance in one’s identity.

Purple is also very personal in terms of their childhood as the artist recalls writing an essay in the fourth grade while living in the U.S. about wishes, and wishing they had a purple room, and then turning to the person next to them and finding they wished they could pay for their dad’s healthcare. Purple then becomes not only about trying to find balance in one’s identity but also how the color directly links these memories from childhood.

*not to imply these identities, nor the artist’s experience, is “half straight, half gay” or “half man, half woman”

Pojankoltiaisen seikkailuja by Janna Lindfors

Moving image / 11’30”

Our identity is based on many factors; where we were born, whom we grew up with, and what experiences we had. “Pojankoltiaisen seikkailuja” (Adventures of a rascal) is a way to see one’s childhood through their eyes and to hear their most memorable stories.

The purpose of this project is not only to immortalize everyday memories, but also to capture Finnish everyday culture from the 1970’s – life in a new, growing suburb. How society started to change, technology was not as present as today, migration from countryside to cities started to grow and city suburbs started to develop.

Even though the stories are told by an adult, the work aims to capture the feelings of childhood; excitement, care-free life, and simple joy.

Cultural Aberration by Elisa Serave

Photography series
2020 – ongoing

Cultural Aberration is an ongoing photo project that started in August 2020.

We can physically be in the same space but experience it so differently – almost as if we were not in the same place at all. We are not only here, but simultaneously also in all the places we have ever been. The culture and home we are born to, does not let us go – no amount of time or space takes us so far that you would not be there. It is a part of us. We should embrace what we can and change what does not fit. If we can create our own culture, maybe we could be here more than there. Maybe the home we are longing for could be where we are now. We would belong here and maybe then we wouldn’t be home sick anymore.

Sorry I Did Not Grow Up Like You Did by Yu-Hsuan Harjula

Photography series

Pictures from the photobook series “Sorry I Did Not Grow Up Like You Did” contain two aspects:

First an immigrant’s journey of moving to a new country. The story of arriving, integrating, and in the end, the hope of finally belong to the new place. The second aspect is about the impact of growing up in a traumatic environment, and the long-lasting feelings of not being able to feel accepted as part of the society.

Vanitas by Veera Jokitalo

Pencil and charcoal on paper / 42 x 29,5 cm

“Vanitas” is made of two close-up drawings of hair, and one drawing showing hair connected as part of a person. The drawings are made on paper; first sketched lightly with pencil, and then actualized with charcoal.

Commonly hair holds emotion and aesthetic value for its holder. But hair constantly changes, and never stays the same. With “Vanitas” Jokitalo wanted to emphasise the beauty of transience, give a moment of contemplation for the painful emotion, but also the relief and lightness linked to it.

”I have interpreted movement of hair in three drawings as a metaphor. As an inspiration I took pictures of my own hair to study and played around with symbolism linked to natural elements such as wind and water. Working on this project made me realize the endless amounts of directions I could have gone with it, so I decided to keep it minimalistic.”

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