Iiu Susiraja’s exhibition Dry Joy opens at Kiasma

Iiu Susiraja, Time to play, 2018.

The exhibition Dry Joy by Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja presents a selection of her works from a period of more than ten years. Susiraja creates candid and honest photographs and videos with a sense of warmth and humour. Although she appears in the works herself, they are not simply self-portraits but rather performances for the camera. Susiraja’s photographs and videos will be on display in at Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma in Helsinki from March 15 onwards. The show includes both early works and more recent oeuvre.

For Susiraja the act of photography is always a very private moment. This is why she does it alone and preferably in a familiar environment. She avoids taking pictures in public places or outdoors due to the risk of potential surprises or disturbances. Susiraja has chosen self-portraiture as a work method mostly because she considers herself a shy person. She feels that it is easier to expose and even humiliate herself in pictures than to do the same to someone else.

In her performative images, Susiraja places herself before the camera expressionless and serious. She directs her gaze straight at the camera and the viewer, as if seeking contact—not requesting, but demanding it. Susiraja does not pose in her pictures or assume any role, even though the outfits, objects and, these days, settings can and do vary. In her pictures, Susiraja makes herself and her private life momentarily public. The mood in Susiraja’s pictures is simultaneously laconic and deeply peculiar, but it is often tinged with humour.

Susiraja’s self-portraits almost always include various props linked to the home and to womanhood, such as diverse accessories, home items or foods: pantyhose, umbrellas, high-heeled shoes, scissors, rolling pins, lace, cushions, sausages, layer cakes, raw fish or whipped cream. It is common for her to utilise the props somehow wrong or otherwise “quirkily.”

“It all starts with the object. It’s funny that people think that my purpose is to criticise beauty ideals or social issues. I have no such intentions. These things come afterwards. My starting point is purely the object and how it relates to me. I start creating my work by listing objects on a piece of paper. Like right now, I’ve written down some items for my next picture, such as a chainsaw and flowers and a turkey. It starts purely with the object, and then I make a list. I also think about what would be an interesting object. It has to work so that as many people as possible will recognise it,” Susiraja explains.

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