KARI SOINIOReturn of the Hero
During my entire career I have been fascinated by the themes of identity: corporeality and place, the sense of belonging somewhere, happiness and fear, insecurity and safety. Regardless of the subject I always consider a photograph´s narrative structure and shape. Form and content must be as one; the right realisation must always be found.
I have explored sexual identity and the depiction of the human body in different ways. In the series Peili ("Mirror") (1989) and Luontoäidin poika ("Mother Nature´s Son") (1994) I pondered the male body, sexuality and sensuality. In the Valokuva I 3rd annual exhibition (1992) I also treated gender-related role models in my series Mikseivät pojat leiki nukeilla? ("Why Don´t Boys Play with Dolls"); at that time I approached the subject from the child´s viewpoint. Subsequently I have also been interested in the significance of landscape and location in the building of a national identity; these themes were emphasised in the Kansallismaisema ("The National Landscape") project (1997).
To find alternative approaches to the subject I have combined documentary thinking with the form and structure of photography. The realisations of my works have also been closely associated with the basic questions of observation and recognition, seeing and identification. In the Porvarin uni ("A Bourgeois Dream") series (2001), I considered the concepts of the good life, its conditions and attainment, as well as the fear of loss. Previously I treated the same theme in the series On lottovoitto syntyä Suomeen ("Being Born in Finland is Like Winning the Lottery") (1990) and Perinteiset arvot ovat nyt muodissa ("Traditional Values are Now in Fashion") (1991).
The Sankarin paluu ("Return of the Hero") exhibition expands upon the themes of "Mirror" and "Mother Nature´s Son": a consideration of male corporeality, masculinity and femininity. Here a "liberated man" wanders in the Finnish landscape. The figure and landscape enter into a dialogue in the pictures but it is not a question of a conventional narrative in which man dominates his environment. The hero and nature appear interactively in and out of focus. The image sharpens and the person becomes an image of his environment. Around there begin to appear the signs of civilisation: felled clearings, a log raft, a dock, a forest path, power lines. How will our soft-contoured hero rising from the reeds cope with the modern world? As in my earlier projects, I continue to ponder human identity. Who are we? What do we want to be? How do we want to inhabit our bodies and surroundings?