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Art Watch : Wilma Hurskainen

Wilma Hurskainen is our Art Watch Artist for today. This section is brought to you by Art From Us and Divvya Nirula. The Artists we spotlight here can be from any field, across any discipline, and using a variety of media. We share here why we think they are important and worth watching. Be it genius creators of eras gone by. Or the upcoming contemporary artist who is yet to have their first show. All come under the purview of Art Watch.

Wilma Hurskainen investigates through her photographs one of the most crucial human preoccupations – dealing wit the past and memories. Although we remain custodians of our past but we are all acutely aware of it slipping away from us. To live in the present mindfully is a world movement, promoting a more present life culture. But in the realm of artistry – it is the past that is a warehouse of memories. Photographs, are a powerful link to our past in that they help to recall our memories sharply.

Through her first work Growth (2004- 2006) Wilma Hurskainen started to investigate childhood and childhood memories. She did this through the use of photography. Using pictures of her family album, she recreated certain situations from old photographs and re-photographed them. The outcome was an interaction between the past and the present. “Family photographs can be a way of reflecting one´s past and identity, but the pictures conceal just as much as they reveal.” Says the  artist who extracts an important slice from the entire process of families, memories and their histories.

Why Wilma Hurskainen?

Since then Wilma Hurskainen, has moved through to different narratives and  believes in collaborating between nature, memories and her family. As a extension Hurskainen, along with her three sisters and parents successfully recreated childhood memories by restaging past photographs.

This collaboration across Sweden and Finland for the entire family finally was a lead up to the project titled No Name, between 2007 and 2011. Here Wilma and her sister dressed-up to match their surroundings. To blend in, to mimic a moment, nature, or even a memory. Each photograph within this series has a dream like quality that elicits nostalgia and deja-vu for the viewer. It follows Wilma’s ongoing thought process where she explores the disappearance and appearance of a relationship. A dissolution of a memory or celebrating its appearance. However here is not the story of loss or displacement. Instead there is a sense of playfulness – which formed one of her bedrock ideas.

“The first one, Invisible, was an idea that I once got while looking at snow and a forest line. We have a lot of that in Finland! Even as a child I was very interested in the idea of hiding or mimicking an animal.”


Through her work The Woman Who Married a Horse (2012), Wilma Hurskainen playfully references childhood, which is still relevant however less obvious. The series features young women in contrived cowgirl scenery. Horses, stables, and prairies, all photographed in saturated colours and soft light, comprise the settings for these highly romantic pictures, reminiscent of childhood romances and settings. The motivations was definitely the artist’s memories of novels for girls and of her girlish fantasies. Wilma Hurskainen creates fictions in which she plays out these fantasies. By combining past and present she creates a timeless space in which she and her sisters can re-enact their childhood memories. And finally live out their long-lost dreams, and thereby validating some dreams.

Wilma Hurskainen was born in Vantaa, Finland, in 1979 . She graduated from Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2007. She has held a solo show at the Northern Photographic Centre, Oulu, Finland (2013), and at Matadero Madrid, Contemporary Art Center (2014), as well as group shows such as Ages, Landesgalerie Linz (2013) and Touching Dreams, the National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen (2011).

Hurskainen lives and works in Helsinki.

For more Artists handpicked by Divvya Nirula – explore the ART WATCH archive.

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