These pictures sure are political! This is the first thought in my mind when I enter the Festival of Political Photography at the Finnish Museum of Photography. The exhibition seems to be somewhere between art and journalism. On the first day of the exhibition there are still some flowers on the floor from the opening party last night.
The theme of the festival is “Homeland”. Immigration and emigration are well represented. Some of the works are rough and sad but very close to the pictures on newspapers every day. On the other hand there are also interesting, hopeful and even happy pictures. Visiting the museum is not a depressing experience, quite the contrary.
As a theme “Homeland“ is an excellent choice because of its contemporary importance. Homeland means a different thing for a Ukrainian man living alone in the woods than to an undocumented migrant fleeing his or her homeland. Sahrawi people from Western Sahara have been living in refugee camps without a homeland for three generations. Refugees from Congo have found a new homeland in a small and northern Finnish town of Pudasjärvi.
The photos are not just visual but many of the projects have an interesting story to tell. Some of the photographers have spent years working with the same topic. Two of the most interesting parts of exhibition come from Russia. Danila Tkachenko has taken pictures of lonely men living in woods of Ukraine and Russia almost without any contact with other people. The bearded gentlemen look peaceful and sad at the same time. Maria Gruzdeva has travelled around the border zones of Russia between 2011 and 2015. Her photo journal shows the areas that often seem beautiful, ugly and surrealistic at the same time.
The Finnish Museum of Photography, Cable Factory / Tallberginkatu 1 G, http://www.valokuvataiteenmuseo.fi/en
The Festival of Political Photography is open until 30th of April, 2016.
Written by Ilmar Metsalo.