Laura Konttinen: Blackbirds

Edition: 1/5+ 2AP
Year: 2019
Dimensions: 60 x 53 cm (K x L)
Oak framed pigment print, non-reflective glass
Framed (Oak frame, non-reflective glass)

Location: Hippolyte Korjaamo (Töölönkatu 51 A-B, 00250 Helsinki)

From the exhibition: When the Blackbirds Return
26 May–30 July 2023
Hippolyte Korjaamo

Laura Konttinen’s
exhibition When the Blackbirds Return is a travelogue where fragments of stories and staged imagery intertwine. The exhibition consists of a series of photographs, an installation, and an autofictional text called Travelogue.

The starting point of the exhibition is an old photograph found amongst Konttinen’s late grandmother Sylvia’s possessions. The photo, taken in 1920, depicts a house in the town of Salem, USA, where the artist’s grandmother was born. The exact address of the house is no longer known, but it gradually becomes an obsession for the artist, who, one hundred years after the photo was taken, embarks on a search for it. The resulting photographic series, born from this journey, is a collection of landscapes where real places, fairytales, her grandmother’s stories, and legends of the Salem Witch Trials from the 17th century, all interweave.

The visual language of the work echoes the logic of nostalgia, where the distant past is dressed in a romanticised attire, bustling with symbolism and vivid exaggeration. The exhibition’s photographs are the result of a slow and meticulous craftsmanship. Konttinen constructs the landscapes of her artworks as temporary compositions for the camera, utilising materials such as photographic prints, leather scraps from flea markets, clay-molded objects, and plant illustrations cut from books inherited from her grandmother. Through carefully considered angles and lighting, a surreal image is born, simultaneously staged yet genuinely present before the camera’s lens.