Gallery Taik Persons proudly presents Milja Laurila’s most recent works in the solo exhibition In Their Own Voice, raising the questions of the apparent transparency of our pictorial realm and the act of being looked at.
A characteristic trait of Laurila’s work is using borrowed image material, in this case taken from old medical books. She is interested in how the concept of knowledge is constructed through images, being especially fascinated by the dialogue between a context and a photograph. Laurila plays with the ability of a photograph to transmit the representation of reality. By detaching the images from their original context, the artist places them in a challenging position; she lets them speak on their own, in their own voice.
Laurila’s interest towards pictures of patients stems from a personal experience, where she herself was observed through the eyes of science:
As I was standing naked in front of a doctor and her camera, I felt myself disappearing – I was mere flesh and blood, not an individual with thoughts and feelings. Even though the doctor was photographing my body meticulously, it felt as if she was looking right through me – as if I wasn’t there.”
The physical experiences described by Laurila can also be projected onto the images of the unknown patients. The viewer’s gaze meets the skin of the photographed, wanders along the arms, fondles the shoulders, but does not recognize a person or identity.
In many aspects, the bodily experience is present in Laurila’s works. The half-naked bodies are printed on transparent acrylic glass, which makes the figures translucent, almost weightless. The vitreous prints, which can be associated with the glass plates used in photography, work as a metaphor for the fragility of the portrayed subjects. Maurice Merleau-Ponty discloses the idea that we don’t come to the artwork to look at it, but to see the world through it. This viewpoint is fulfilled in a poetic way when we encounter Laurila’s delicate human figures, who instead of representing the depicted individuals are actually reflecting our way of perceiving the world.
Milja Laurila was born in 1982 in Helsinki, Finland, where she lives and works today.
Further information can be found on the gallery website.