Palomäki specialises in taking photographs of children and young people, and says her work deals with growth, memory, the problematic ways we see ourselves, and – crucially – our mortality. “We fight against our mortality, denying it, yet photographs are there to prove our inescapable destiny,” she has written. “The idea of getting older is heart-rending.” Palomäki is currently showing new images, depicting siblings, titled Shared. BJP caught up with her to find out more about this project and her work in general.
Nelli Palomäki, Justine Tjallinks, Denis Dailleux, Mark Seliger, Thomas Sauvin, Gilles Coulon, Mattia Zoppellaro and The Karma Milopp are all showing work in the Portrait(s) Photography Encounter – a festival devoted to pictures of people. Based in Vichy, France, the festival is now in its sixth year, and has been overseen this time by artistic director Fany Dupêchez.
Dailleux’s images were shot from 1987-1992, and show children based in the working class suburbs of Persan-Beaumont, Northern France; the images Sauvin is showing are also from the archives, but were taken by amateurs in China, and rescued by the French artist after the negatives were sent to the Beijing Silvermine to be melted down.
Have you ever studied a picture of your mother or father when they were children, unaware of their future, oblivious to the presence of you. They are at once so familiar, yet so unknowable; so clearly the person you so intimately love, and then at a remove, happy and free in a context devoid of you. Photography is an existential medium, for it preserves moments that existed before you did. It was only by some abstract, biological constellation of random events that allowed this child in the picture to create and raise you. Here is evidence of life before they gave you life. “While time gnaws away at the faces of us and our close ones, we return to look at the pictures from our past,” Nelli Palomäki says. The Finnish artist’s photography starts from a truism – that beyond beauty, beyond concept, it’s the simple photographs of our loved ones, taken in a time before memory, that maintain the ability to move us the most. And make us question the most. “As beautiful or poignant as an image …