Press release

ESKO MÄNNIKKÖ
23 November 2001 - 2 February 2002

We are pleased to present the first solo show by the Finnish photographer Esko Männikkö in Italy. Born in 1959 in Pudajärvi in the far north of Finland, he lives and works in the town of Oulu, where he portrays people, and occasionally animals, living alone on the outskirts of civilisation and at the very edge of untamed nature. He photographs them in their home environment surrounded by the objects they love and which reflect the taste and habits of their daily life. These images are extremely lucid and empathetic and have the rigorous formal composition of Renaissance paintings. They transcend particular situations to become portraits of the human condition.

Differently to most photographers (who have their colour photographs printed in professional studios) Esko Männikkö prints each of his photographs himself with extreme care. Furthermore, for each image he chooses a second-hand or antique frame which becomes an integral part of the work. The frame acts as a mediator between representation and reality, between the image's painterly beauty and the humble situation it portrays.

From 1996 to 1998 he was invited to work in the U.S.A., on the border between Texas and Mexico. Afterwards he collected the images he had made under the title "Mexas", a place where a distinct and hybrid mythology has been created by immigrant Mexicans. These photographs also describe a culture created by people who live a life of hardship and somehow outside time. The often unlikely and humorous situations shown convey genuine values. He may have changed Continent, but Esko Männikkö's gaze is still empathetic and portrays a universal humanity capable of mediating tragedy through a beauty it is difficult to remain indifferent to.

Since 1999 Männikkö has begun a new series of photographs called "Organized Freedom" in which he photographs doorways of abandoned houses in his native Finland. These are facades worn by time and that reveal human traces. Despite the absence of their inhabitants, they become like a gallery of portraits. In his most recent works Männikkö depicts "strangers" who live in Finland, and thus further enriches his visual research on the human condition.

This exhibition includes 50 photographs of these different periods of work.

Since 1995 Esko Männikkö has exhibited in numerous internationally-known galleries and museums, amongst which are the Venice Biennale in 1995; the Johannesburg Biennial in 1997; Nuit Blanche at the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris in 1998; the São Paulo Biennial in 1998; the Kwangju Biennial, and Organising Freedom at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm in 2000; Ars 01 in Helsinki in 2001. Portikus in Frankfurt and the Lehmbachhaus in Munich presented solo shows by him in 1996, and he also showed at the Malmö Konsthalle in 1997. He shows regularly at Nordenhake gallery in Stockholm and Berlin and has shown at White Cube gallery in London, at Morris Healy in New York as well as at Cent8 in Paris.