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Grey Diary
Photograph, from the series Grey Diary, 2006-08
Digital C-print (Lambda) on aluminium
30 x 24 cm
Edition of 5
2008 © Niina Vatanen / courtesy Gallery TAIK

Niina Vatanen »

Grey Diary

Exhibition: – 29 Jan 2011

Gallery TaiK

Bergstr. 22
10115 Berlin

Persons Projects

Lindenstr. 35
10969 Berlin

+49 (0)30-28883370


Tue-Sat 11-18

Grey Diary
29 Days, from the series Grey Diary
C-print / Aluminium 2008 © Niina Vatanen / courtesy Gallery TAIK

Niina Vatanen - Grey Diary

Die Installation „Grey Diary“ der finnischen Künstlerin Niina Vatanen dokumentiert eine fotografische Spurensuche – die Suche nach dem, was von einem Toten bleibt. In ihrem Fall entsteht so ein facettenreiches, aber auch zersplittertes Porträt ihres überraschend verstorbenen Stiefvaters und zugleich eine vielschichtige Reflektion über die Abwesenheit eines Menschen.

Vatanen fotografiert Dokumente wie Postkarten, Kalenderblätter oder eine Landkarte des Vaters – Orte, an denen er sich oft aufgehalten hat. Dabei bemisst sich die Wichtigkeit eines Bildes nicht primär nach der ästhetischen Sensation, sondern vor allem nach der persönlichen Erinnerung, die daran anknüpfen kann. Eine einfache Waldlichtung kann in diesem Sinne äußerst bedeutsam sein. Die Rolle, die Fotografie in diesem Zusammenhang einnimmt, hat Roland Barthes wie folgt beschrieben: „Das Kinderphoto meiner Mutter vor Augen, sage ich mir: sie wird sterben: ich erschauere [...] vor einer Katastrophe, die bereits stattgefunden hat.“

Niina Vatanen´s Grey Diary documents a photographic search for traces, a quest for what is left of the mortal remains of someone dear to you. The result is a multifaceted, but also splintered portrait of the artist´s deceased stepfather that at the same time includes multilayered reflection on someone´s absence.

To do this, Vatanen made use of different forms and media; she photographed documents, such as postcards, pages from a calendar or a map, old passport photos of her stepfather, and places where he often stayed. She then collected the targets that she shot at with his rifle; the result is 157 Wounds, a formally and strictly composed installation on the diversity of the pain of loss. The importance of each single picture in the series is not determined by its aesthetic sensation, but by the personal memory it can conjure up. The most worthwhile of memories can be linked to something as simple as a clearing in the woods.

A special role is played by the target pasters, small stickers marksmen like her stepfather apply to close off the bullet holes in the target so they can use it again.

As for their role in the series, Vatanen says: "They are an attempt to mark memories and places, but they also work like a patch: they cover scratches and scars. Attaching the target pasters is also doing the same act my stepfather used to do. There is a wound in a landscape. I want to repair it." Band- Aids close wounds, but simultaneously make them all the more visible.

Grey Diary highlights the complexity of memory and loss. The place that photography occupies in this context was described by Roland Barthes in the following: "With the childhood photo of my mother before my eyes, I say to myself: she will die: I shudder … in the face of a catastrophe that has already taken place." Photography in this sense thematizes death: if something is photographed, the moment has already passed.

In the recent years the 33 year old artist has participated in many group exhibitions worldwide (Helsinki, Paris, Daegu). Her next solo exhibition will take place this winter at the Photographic Center Peri in Turku, Finland. The latest publications of her works are The Helsinki School - Young Photography by TaiK and Daegu - The Helsinki School. Her works are included in numerous museums and private collections in Finland.

Katrin Hiller von Gaertringen

Grey Diary
Birches, from the series Grey Diary, 2006-08
Digital C-print (Lambda) on aluminium
42 x 53 cm
Edition of 5
2008 © Niina Vatanen / courtesy Gallery TAIK
Grey Diary
Shelter, from the series Grey Diary, 2006-08
Digital C-print (Lambda) on aluminium
100 x 130 cm
Edition of 5
2008 © Niina Vatanen / courtesy Gallery TAIK