Finland-based self-portrait artist iiu Susiraja’s work is not for everyone. That’s obvious. “I once got an e-mail from an unknown sender: Go and get a proper job.” Not exactly the kind of reaction a photographer would like to hear, but it's critiques like that, which iiu says are the “best part” of her work. In her 2008-2010 ‘Good Behaviour’ photo collection, iiu wedges a broom under her boobs in "Luuti", while in "Self-Service" she puts her body weight on a tray underneath and in "Portrait of the Artist", she screws up her face, balancing a dog bone on her upper lip. Weird? Yes. Amusing? Definitely.
iiu, who graduated from Turku Art Academy in 2012, is showcasing her work at the Frankfurt Fotografie Forum as part of the Potretti exhibition which runs until November. She first became publicly recognized when the Finnish Museum of Photography exhibited her in their project room in 2011. Three years later, the Potretti exhibition aims to introduce contemporary artists from Finland, who “investigate subjects via the genre of portraiture in a way that surpasses documentary presentation.” Currently completing her MA studies in Fine Art, Susiraja’s work evolves dramatic domestic situations involving femininity, the body, traditions, social stereotypes and love – in the least boring, most satirical way possible.
What has been your inspiration behind the images?
iiu Susiraja: Everyday life and my own life.
Who are your photographic idols?
iiu Susiraja: Heli Rekula, because when I saw her photograph called "Hyperventilation" it made a huge impression on me. In the picture the act is something that I can identify with. It's something I also could do in art. Rekula's other images are also very stunning. Another interesting artist is performance artist Irma Optimist. I like her way of using objects in her performances. And director Aki Kaurismäki, I like the characters of his films.
How did you first get involved in photography and portraiture?
iiu Susiraja: I got my first digital camera in 2007. The first pictures I took were self-portraits. In those pictures I was slightly hidden and there was no humour in them. I use myself as a model, because I am easily available in shooting situations and it is morally right, and also the easiest way. And that's because I am those photos topics.
What kind of reactions have your photos gotten?
iiu Susiraja: Confusion is the most common reaction.
What is the weirdest reaction your photo has gotten?
iiu Susiraja: Once I received an email from an unknown sender: “Go and get a proper job.”
What do you want people to feel when they see your work?
iiu Susiraja: To feel freedom to perform how they want to in their own self-portrait. And the best part is if the viewer has conflicting thoughts with my art.
What’s the theme and symbolic message behind your work?
iiu Susiraja: The abnormal may be normal.
What would you do if women started to imitate your photos?
iiu Susiraja: I would be flattered and proud of these women.
How would you describe your work in terms of contemporary portraiture?
iiu Susiraja: At home you can be yourself, wild and free.
Have you got any further projects lined up for the future?
iiu Susiraja: Now I'm doing my final work of MA studies. That solo exhibition is in Helsinki in May 2015 (Kluuvi gallery).
Potretti is being held at the Fotografie Forum, Frankfurt between October 4 and November 30
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