words Zarah Cheng
All images are from Tiina's portfolio.
Where are you from?
I’m from Tampere, Finland, but I studied at the Lahti Institute of Art and Design. I graduated in May with a Bachelor of Arts degree and have since moved to Helsinki.
How would you describe your images?
My images are minimalistic: the use of colour, objects and the model is very limited and carefully thought out. Absence, melancholy and silence are perhaps the words that best describe my work. But for me, there always has to be some conflict or contradiction. I’m not happy with just a ”pretty picture”. The images have to have something to say.
Your series, Reactions (2015), explores the concept of humankind’s narrow-minded worldview and the reactions that this has on nature, politics, and neoconservatism. Can you tell us a bit more about how you represent this dialogue through your photographs?
This thesis work series started one year ago when I watched many political documentaries and followed news about, for example, climate change, mass distinction, human rights and the rise of neoconservatism. This triggered the feelings of total loss of power and absurdity, and I started to study humans. The human species is devastatingly selfish and shortsighted. I wanted to understand what humans do and why, how does the human function. Maybe by understanding the behaviour, it would be easier to understand and accept the state of the world, easier to make a difference.
It was a long and difficult journey, studying everything from misanthropy to psychology. In the end, the pictures in the series deal with how we see the world and what reactions something alien to it causes (be it nature or some ideological contradiction). There can be seen different defence mechanisms (denial, aggression and repression) and the way we treat and mold the world around us to our own, personal liking.
I love your series, White Walls (2013), and how it portrays this very isolated and lonely atmosphere. What inspired these images?
I moved out when I was 18 years old to study photography in another city. The series deals with the emotions that caused: The silence and the emptiness of the new student home and way of life. I started to wonder why I carried on with some routines I had when living with my family because now it all seemed somehow empty. The series was kind of a start to living by myself, but it can also deal with any kind of big changes in life. Basically, it’s about absence.
You mentioned that you only started developing your own style over the last two years or so. How were you able to find your artistic voice?
It kind of just happened in a way that I didn’t notice. My student friends did, and when they told me what the natural way for me to do photography was, I had a Eureka! moment. Now looking back, I recognize the same themes I’ve always been interested in. My work is also affected by my background in painting and graphic arts – photography came in to the picture surprisingly late.
You spoke about how personal projects are very emotionally demanding for you. How do you typically prepare for personal projects, and what sort of challenges do you face?
It always starts with some personal conflict or the need to process a thought or a problem. Usually the projects grow to deal with some bigger social, cultural or political theme but there needs to be the personal dimension as well, to keep it important and motivational for me. I tend to dwell on the ideas and problems maybe a bit too much, to the point where it’s distressing, and finally I put all the emotions into photo shoots.
It’s important for me to do everything by myself (although I do get help from my boyfriend and friends), to have and go through the emotions and to use myself in the pictures. Though in the photos I’m a character, a human. But I’m what you perhaps would call lazy – it takes much time and effort to get to the point of finally photographing. It’s kind of the final breakdown for the project, in a way. And I’m rather a perfectionist, so if the picture is not perfect, I’m back to square one.
The perfect balance is to work between personal and collaborative projects. Now that I quite recently finished my personal thesis work series, I’m having a pause and concentrating on new projects, co-operating with talented people I’m lucky to know. The projects will be out in Autumn, if all goes well.
You are working on several collaborative projects right now, with fashion designers and graphic designers. What can we expect to see from you in the future?
I hope to do more work in the fields of fashion and graphic design, although I’m interested in any kind of intriguing or experimental projects. Maybe later this year I’ll start also a new, personal project since for me, that’s what art is for – it’s a way to comprehend and deal with the world we live in.
What bands/artists are you listening to right now?
Lately I’ve been going back to Gorillaz, which I listened to ten years ago as a pre-teen. Also Kate Bush, Owen Pallett and the Norwegian artist Todd Terje are on top of my list.
Favourite movie of all time?
This is a tough one. I have to choose two: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. They both deal with mental conflicts in beautifully and melancholically surrealistic way.
If we only had one day to spend in Finland, what are the things we must do?
You’d have to come in the summer and go to someone’s summer cabin in the countryside (nearly everyone here has one) and experience the nightless nights and midsummer magic. It’s the best time to hang out with friends, make good food, and just be outside in the nature listening to birds.
What creeps you out the most?
Humans and the Suriname toad.
Check out more of Tiina's work at: tiinaeronen.com
Posted on July 20, 2015
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE