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Defence of dissertation in the field of Photography, MA Laura Nissinen

Green, red and yellow lights in abstract formation

Title of thesis: Abstraktin aika. Epäesittävä suomalainen valokuvataide 1920-2020

Opponent: PhD Johanna Frigård, University of Turku

Custos: Professor Harri Laakso,Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Department of Media

Defence is held remotely via Zoom: https://aalto.zoom.us/j/61259729404

Zoom Quick Guide: https://www.aalto.fi/en/services/zoom-quick-guide

The dissertation is publicly displayed online 10 days before the defence at:https://aaltodoc.aalto.fi/doc_public/eonly/riiputus/ (ERRATA)

More information on the thesis:

Vilho Setälä, who photographed Finland's earliest photographic abstraction, Sähkökruunu, in 1928, warned in a photography guide he wrote: "And now, my friend, when you try to open your eyes to the unseen, prepare for disappointment. Your friends don't understand you and the editors reject your best pictures."

Laura Nissinen's doctoral dissertation Abstraktin aika. Epäesittävä suomalainen valokuvataide 1920–2020 will be examined at Aalto University on 26th March 2021. The thesis delves into one of medium's most interesting problems, the possibility of abstract photography. The study, which also includes an artistic part, deals with the production of a total of 32 Finnish photographers and artists through an extensive interview section. In addition, several foreign photographers and artists are involved, as well as 19th Century Finnish and foreign scientists from different fields.

During its 100-year existence, photographic abstraction has established itself as part of photographic expression. However, the reception it has received has varied. Abstract photographs have been perceived as non-photographic and have been seen to resemble too much other visual arts, especially painting. The most turbulent stages in the history of Finnish abstract photography were experienced between 1950s and 1980s. Looking back, especially the 1970s, when many of the permanent structures of Finnish photography also took shape, appear to be problematic in many ways with photographic abstraction.

Today, there are only occasional echoes of the abstract's sometimes very challenging position in Finnish art photography. However, the reservations of the past decades about the phenomenon can still be seen as interruptions in the narrative of Finnish photographic history and shortcomings in photo archives. Based on the small number of photographic abstractions in archives and collections, we have a gap in our country's art history.

The strengthened art status of contemporary photography has increased the number of Finnish photographic abstractions and made the unrepresentative form of expression more common. On the other hand, this research shows that the importance of abstract photography in classifying photography as art in Finland has been essential. As Juhani Riekkola, member of the group Fotograafikot stated in his interview: "We hung the first photographs in the galleries, not today's curators".

More information: Laura Nissinen, [email protected]

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