A solo exhibition by Iiu Susiraja
The solo exhibition by Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja combines large-scale self-portraits, still-lives and film-based installations.
Susiraja’s work depicts the artist engaging in a variety of absurd activities in a domestic environment. She stages surreal situations in which a woman takes risks and challenges social stereotypes by exposing herself to the camera. Susiraja’s work is both humorous in its simplicity and unapologetic: her direct gaze challenges the viewer by contradicting what the work otherwise appears to be portraying.
By combining most mundane items with her body, the artist constructs iconographic relationships between the object and the figure, transforming both. The banana inside a glass jar, positioned on the artist’s abdomen creates a new purpose for the items by reconstructing their function. This transformation is echoed in the still-lives composed of ordinary household items and their extraordinary re-appropriation. These odd and funny constellations generate associations of the woman as a domestic goddess and our obsessive relation to food and corporeality. In the context of this year’s Belfast Photo Festival with the theme of sexuality and gender, these utterly self-confident, witty and empowering works are a daring and provocative contribution to the subject.
Iiu Susiraja’s unconventional self-portraits have gained significant international interest particularly on the internet. While she has been widely exhibited both in Finland as well as abroad, the presence of her works on numerous international journals and blogs has made her photographs expansively acknowledged and debated. The reactions to her work range from disgust to admiration, from ridicule to appreciation.
Despite having gained international attention, Susiraja’s works are not well known in the UK or Ireland. This is the first time that her work has been exhibited in Northern Ireland. The division into the English speaking and continental and northern European photographic world still appears to be pervasive, and bringing Susiraja’s challenging work to be displayed in the context of the Belfast Photo Festival functions as a game opener in making Finnish photography better known in this part of the UK and Ireland, not to mention the wider audiences her work will reach.
Exhibition website: https://www.pssquared.org/Iiu%20Susiraja.php
Credit: Simon Mills