"When I became friends with the models, I realized that documenting the physical changes was not enough to show the pressures involved in the process, pressures that society places on transgender people. Transgender people are born physically in an in-between state, and in seeking a complete life they have to reconstruct their bodies and social identities. How are they to form a self-image when looking in the mirror? What do other people's gazes feel like? I have tried to show these states of mind in my pictures."
By re-photographing the portraits, some of them through water and ice, Puha has created new works. The water, ice and reflections distance us from the representationality of the original portrait. The people in the pictures have become shapes, their bodies blurring, disintegrating on the paper, and becoming unrecognizable.
The video installation that accompanies the series of photographs shows a fictional figure, Paula/Pauli. The videowork depicts his/her attempts to adapt to the surrounding world.
Tero Puha (b. 1971) is a visual artist specializing in photography, video and digital art. In his artistic work, he studies contemporary life, and particularly body images, identities, gender roles, and consumption.
Puha: "The contemporary human being's search for identity and meaning in life, and a balance between the natural and the unnatural, inevitably generates pressures and conflicts."
Puha has worked in Helsinki, London, Paris, Berlin and New York. His works have been shown all over the world and acquired for several art-museum collections.
The exhibition is accompanied by the publication of an extensive photography book, Almost Human, by Tero Puha. It spans Puha's production of 1995-2010. It includes this multi-faceted artist's pop-art works, subtly toned black-and-white body studies, video projects and installations. The book includes written contributions by Leevi Haapala, Livia Hekanaho, Anna-Kaisa Rastenberger, Leena-Maija Rossi and Annamari Vänskä.
More about the book and about Tero Puha's work: www.teropuha.com.
Meet the artist: Sunday 21.11, 2pm. Museum entrance fee.