Elina Brotherus is a Finnish photographer who divides her time between her native country and France. All OCA students are familiar with some of her images from her project, Suites Françaises, which are featured on the cover of Charlotte Cotton’s The Photograph as Contemporary Art, one of our recommended texts.
Brotherus’s work explores various facets of her life. She documents her history and the issues arising in her life. Her images have to be true and she makes them during the crisis or episode that is occurring at that moment in her life. She will not go back and recreate a scene at a later period as she feels that is dishonest.
I find her images definitely reflect a stream of honesty running through all her projects. Even though she is nude in many of her images, I do not find the images narcissistic at all. They are full of introspection. Many of her projects deal with women’s issues, love, breakups and things that women do not openly speak of like the question of infertility and the empty void that is created in a woman’s soul because she cannot conceive (her Annunciation series). Brotherus is very fond of using reflections in her photography. She also finds ways of hiding and revealing the subject, by allowing partial barriers to come between the camera and the subject, eg a misted up mirror or shower door. She is very interested in the gaze, specifically the artist’s gaze meeting the gaze of the viewer and many of her images feature this method of photography. Brotherus also places herself into her landscape images to act as a anchoring focal point. Usually she is seen from the back. Photographing someone from the back seems to lend an air of mystery to the image, leaving the interpretation more open to the viewer. I find that her images leave me wanting to know more about the experience or person. Even her landscapes have this ambiguous air to them.
Elina Brotherus: It’s not me, it’s a photograph [vidcast, online] Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. November 2012. 15 min 25 secs https://vimeo.com/58005699 (accessed 01/10/2015)
Elina Brotherus [online]. Available from: http://www.elinabrotherus.com/photography/index.php [Accessed 29 September, 2015]