Nanna Hänninen connects historical photographs to the present by painting on them.
Hänninen explores personal themes and her own family background by appropriating photographs. Using brushstrokes in acrylic to steer our viewing of the pictures from 1870–1960, she directs our attention to a pose, a facial expression, a hand in a lace glove, an accidental passer-by. The subject matter of the photographs is recognisable, the painted additions abstract.
The pictures are copies of photographs by Viktor Barsokevitsch (1863–1933) and Karl Granit (1857–1894) found in the collections of the Kuopio Museum of Cultural History, as well as pictures from family albums taken in Helsinki, Viipuri, Vienna, Berlin, Kuopio and other places. Hänninen’s grandfather, who appears in the pictures both as a child and an adult, was himself a portrait photographer in Rautalammi and Kuopio.
In the pictures, Nanna Hänninen examines the thoughts and emotions aroused by the photographs as well as any existing historical facts about the people and events featured in them. Although Hänninen’s attention is drawn to lights and shadows in the photos, her primary concern is the feelings awakened in herself by the pictures. In the show, completely unrelated events and persons are mixed to create a new story. This is a story about war, separation, death, adoption, orphans and adopted children, young mothers who must abandon their children, maids and patients, attempting suicides, bombings, studies in Vienna and Berlin in the early years of the 20th century, immigrants heading to America, affluence and poverty, accidental meetings and missed encounters. The experiences are passed on from one generation to the next in the form of fragments of stories, unvoiced traumas or golden memories. Similarities between events and opportunities for identification are addressed by Hänninen from a personal perspective.
In time, the private becomes universal, and allows documentary materials to be approached conceptually. The appropriation of images makes tangible the dimension between the past and the present.
Nanna Hänninen (b. 1973) is a member of the Helsinki School and one of the internationally most successful photographic artists in Finland. She graduated from the Department of Photography at the University of Art and Design Helsinki in 2002. In addition to Kiasma, EMMA and the Finnish Museum of Photography, she also has work in the collections of Fotomusem Winterthur in Switzerland, Maison Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Gothenburg Museum of Art, the Swedish National Public Art Council, and numerous private collections in Finland and abroad. Nanna Hänninen has exhibited her work in several of solo and group shows around the world.
Witnesses of the Others currently consists of about 20 works. All works are unique. A monograph on the series will be released in spring 2015. The English-language book is designed and published by Swiss publishing house KODOJI press/Winfried Heininger.