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Artist Statement
Nelli Palomäki

Nelli Palomäki »

Artist Statement


Artist Statement . I almost never carry my camera with me. Sometimes its presence even haunts me. It’s more fun to view the environment without the pressure of photographing it. Running children with an angry mother after them, a big cockroach crossing the ship’s deck, a lonely man with a sleeping bag under his arm and a family playing cards together. Do they notice me? I imagine where people are going and how they live. An old woman must be lonely and that’s why she’s carrying a big bag of doughnuts, only to lie about coming visitors. A man walks to his hangout bar every day to sit and watch people without saying a word to anyone. It would be romantic to think that he must be a writer, but probably he’s just a lonely man. A child dangles a cat from its tail without anyone telling the child not to. A fashionable woman in the perfume department looks at me with contempt, I feel like laughing. - I sit in the tram and follow two little girls. They look remarkably alike. Although the girls are playing together, they have sad looks on their faces. Even the greatest laugh will not change the seriousness of the faces. The girls stay in my thoughts for a long time. After a few months, I see them again, this time with their mother. I end up taking a portrait of Elsa and Viola in their home. I stuff the girls in one big tulle dress to keep them as close to each other as possible for a longer time. The girls sit seriously next to each other and look the same as they did months before. I’m amused by their seriousness, at the same time there is something sad about it. - The way people act in front of camera, is truly fascinating. Desperately searching for their mirror-face which only exist in their mind. Everyone is aware of their better side and even more aware of their flaws, unsuccessfully hiding them. But they can recognize the same thing in me, realizing this makes me really insecure and nervous. This makes the portraiture, the actual moment of taking the image, really extraordinary. Accepting the fact that we are there as we really exist, with our good and bad features, makes it suddenly quite comfortable. - I search for the perfect picture, but it escapes. In the end, a portrait is always different from what I expected. Other pictures surprise me with their strength, others merely disappoint me. Disappointment, however, motivates me to continue. Excitement after each shoot is always as great, the fear of failure always as fascinating. I sit in the tram and study new negatives. Against the window they look successful. But I know the pictures will end up different than I expect. Something has changed. Perhaps the person’s eyes are just about to close, a child has moved or there is a trace of an irritating artificial smile. A picture planned beforehand changes through coincidence and surprises and escapes from the photographer. If I succeeded in taking the perfect picture, I would hardly continue shooting.