Interview: Leena Holmström
Luca Curci talks with Leena Holmström during the 15th Edition of VENICE INTERNATIONAL ART FAIR 2022, at Palazzo Bembo.
I am a photographer and contemporary artist living and working in Oulu In Northern Finland. I graduated as a visual artist from the Lapland University of Applied Sciences’ Department of Digital Visual Arts (AMK, 2016) and as a Master of Arts from the University of Lapland (TaM,2018). My works have been featured in several solo exhibitions in Finland and in joint exhibitions in Hungary, Italy and Spain, among others. I make composite photos using multiple images and layers for collages or montages. I create my own interpretation of what I see. I love playing with photos because I can never know what happen. The result is always surprising. In the intuitive process, I learn about myself and also build my identity. I build my images by combining or destroying parts of them but also by staging them so that I can express something invisible. Staging and processing, however, provide tools, with which to overcome amongst other things the present and to combine different kinds of levels. It makes creating metaphors possible as well.
Luca Curci – How did you get to photography? Do you remember why you took your first professional photo?
Leena Holmström – I started photography through image processing by learning Photoshop more than twenty years ago. I made pictures from other people’s pictures. About thirteen years ago I started taking all my pictures of myself. I can’t say when I shot my first professional photo. I’ve always photographed with passion and had an intention for something. My art studies have also been very useful in photography and constructing images afterwards.
LC – According to you, what makes a good photo? Which details do you focus on?
LH – A good picture has a story or a message, or something that raises questions or confuse. The content is more important than the technique, but the best is if the content corresponds to the medium, or it makes sense to tell something by photographing. Often there is something that cannot be expressed in words, multi-perspective or interpretability. Because photography is attached to external reality it makes some challenge to describe something invisible from your mind. So my focus is on content, everything begins from my mind and thought. Although I’m not always aware of it.
LC – Where do you find your inspiration?
LH – I have inspirations everywhere nature, streets, magazines, movies, articles, books other artists and so. I think that everything around me affects my mind and in the end, things merge into something I can express. But mostly I am interested in human beings and life itself. And of course, myself, how I build my identity or develop as a human being.
LC – How do you feel when you see your work completed?
LH – I like mostly the making process. I feel joy when something is surprising and new to me. Of course, it is also great if I can show my work to other people. The viewers don’t necessarily have to interpret my pictures as I do, but I hope they evoke some kind of reaction from their own experiences. The best thing is if someone else enjoys my work or even wants to buy it.
LC – How is being an artist nowadays?
LH – To me it means working alone and it is difficult to get grants when you are already a senior artist. However, the situation is made easier by new publication channels and digital exhibition possibilities.
LC – Do you agree with our vision of art and what do you think about the theme of the exhibition?
LH – Your theme ”analyzes the relationship between body and space, and the hybridization between identities and cultural/physical/social/urban context in contemporary time”. Your theme contains exactly the questions and topics that I have had for years. My first solo exhibition (2016) in Finland was about these topics. I will continue to work on these questions further and make new pictures too.
LC – In which way the artwork presented in our exhibition is connected with the exhibition’s theme?
LH – I think my works are connected well to the theme of hidden parts of our identities and an experience inside our consciousness. I stroke my hair and Eating disease -photos are made by staging. I act intuitively without preplanning. Or topics arise unconsciously from my childhood or other experiences. I proceed by instinct. In both images, I process my problematic feelings and so-called ”nice girl syndrome”. My world is often surreal or a little weird so the viewer has to think about the inner message of the picture.
LC – Did you enjoy cooperating with us?
LH – I think the cooperation has gone well by email and I got help with shipping problems.
LC – What do you think about ITSLIQUID Platform?
LH – This is a great opportunity for me. I was so pleased you find me and my works on my website. I hope to be able to participate in the future too. Contemporary art is yet strange to many people in Finland. Through your platform, it is possible to reach people worldwide who are genuinely interested in art and art lovers. You make it easy and possible.
LC – What do you think about the organization of our event?
LH – This was my first time at your event with my work and because I was not able to be there, I cannot answer. But otherwise, the connection has worked well and I am grateful for that.
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