Dark Forests

Helsinki City Art Museum has pretty much got Finland covered this summer. If you’ve seem the City — and there is only one city that feels very much like a city — and if you’ve seen the forest, then you’ve seen pretty much everything — except the lakes of course. And the sea. And then there’s the islands. But apart from the lakes, sea and islands, and I suppose the smaller cities and towns, Finland is it’s forests and it’s capital city.

In The Golden Forest, Ritva Kovalainen  and Sanni Seppo show views of forests in Finland and Japan. At the centre of the exhibition is an installation, The Wishing Tree by Reiko Nireki. A new sapling grows out of a tree trunk. Followers of Shinto traditionally place a branch in the stump of tree used to make a boat to express gratitude and reverance.

Hannes Heikura’s Dark Zone is a series of prints in black and white, mainly black. Anonymous figures are caught in various streets of Helsinki with the title giving the place, date and time. And while many are taken in daylight, in Heikura’s world, it’s always night. It’s hard not to suspect that some of the shots are posed — they are so perfectly composed. A hoodied figure stands by a wall, an end of Lasipalatsi in a sea of apshshalt, a lone skateboarder, Heikura says these are just the everyday streets and everyday people we pass without noticing. But once seen through his lens, they tell their stories of loneliness and beauty.

The Golden Forest and Dark Zone are at the Helsinki City Art Museum (Helsingin taidemuseo) until 4th September.

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