the hidden place

Images & Text: Minna Rissanen-

Because of my childhood experiences, a close connection to nature is an essential part of my identity. Hiking trips with my family, where I learned to embrace wilderness, launched me on a lifelong journey. I live with the environment and landscapes, observing them and reflecting on my observations. I wander the forests by myself or with my dogs, shooting fowl in the woodlands and the taiga. All my roles give me a wide perspective, which makes the landscape a wonderfully rich experience.

 

The main theme of my photography is the experiential nature of landscapes, which I approach by spending time in the great outdoors. Going slowly—a stone’s throw away from my home or further, off the beaten track—I survey the matter of terrains. Bushes and thickets, forests and open uplands inspire me to an adventure with images. As a visual artist, I prefer photography as a vehicle of expression. The camera is an extension of my body and a document of my experiences. A swift medium that catches the moment, photography is the optimal medium for me.

Making art and leaving for the outdoors are similar experiences for me: I feel inspired and look forward to what is going to happen. I approach the landscape from the perspective of a human, phenomenological geography, which examines experiences, emotions, and meanings related to places. I am awed by the objects of admiration that ordinary-looking terrain and environments can offer. I try to find the boundary between the imaginary and the real. My focus is on something I like to call the hidden place. When looked at again and again, with an open mind, a hidden place discloses new visual scenes. A familiar hidden place is not empty or uninspiring for me. With my photos, I reflect on the concept of a place as a lived situational experience. In addition to its properties that can be perceived through the senses, I explore the images, atmosphere, and genius loci—the spirit—of a place.

My interpretation of the landscape is not based on movement only, while documenting the passing and changing view. Instead, my photographs also transmit the feeling of a standstill and immobility. The northern, Arctic environment, both natural and cultural, is my spiritual home and frame of mind. The visually fascinating Utsjoki area in the northernmost Finnish Lapland and the Varanger Peninsula in northern Norway attract me with their silence. Surrounded by the rich nuances and forces of nature, life is uncluttered and simple and allows living quietly in the moment. Utsjoki and Varanger are not far apart, but their sceneries are widely different. A sparsely populated upland, bare or covered only by dwarf birches, changes into a green pasture for sheep and then, closer to the Barents Sea, a void and barren moonscape. The Sami native region is a fascinating mixture of contrasts and variation. The cultural variety, changes in the seasons and weather, and variations in the amount of light attract the eye to the landscape over and over again, unforeseeable and puzzling.

© all pictures Minna Rissanen with kind permission

The North enchants and, like a physical force, has infected me with an incurable Lapland madness. Photography is my way to empowerment and longing. Melancholy is a feature of my imagery. I watch the open sea and the infinity opening from the top of the fjeld. Slightly melancholic and sad, I examine the landscape using a “romantic look”. A romantic look, for me, is a peaceful and personal, spiritual relation between the experiencer and the object. When examining the landscape, I notice I am looking at myself. The landscape is my experience and my mirror.

Minna is a visual artist from Finland, specialising in photographic art. Her work has been on display in art museums all over Finland. Items from her photo series Herbario Mystique will be shown in the Lappeenranta Art Museum in Finland as part of the Kaakko2018 exhibition in early 2018. Herbario Mystique is an intimate praise of plants—blossoming, withering, and dead—and the mystery of nature. At present, she is working on her Vuonnabahta photography series (working title).

More about Minna here.

Take good care my dear readers, follow us on Instagram in the meantime for more inspiration here.

Yours, Melanie Kettner