Perttu Saksa

Ars Fennica candidate 2017

Das Unheimliche is a Freudian concept describing a situation in which an incongruous element intrudes upon the familiar, provoking responses of fear, anxiety and revulsion. The uncanny element is always something repressed that should remain locked away in the unconscious, yet bubbles up in specific circumstances, making the familiar world seem suddenly nightmarish yet irresistible to the gaze.

For Sigmund Freud, the ‘uncanny’ was an aesthetic category comparable to the ‘beautiful’ or ‘sublime’. ‘Uncanny’ is certainly an apt epithet for the work of Perttu Saksa, whose art reflects on the relationship between humans and other species and how people exploit and extract material gain from non-human species. By foregrounding the familiarity yet foreignness of animals, he also reflects on our mode of being in the world and our manner of confronting otherness.

Saksa’s photographs of taxidermied apes in science museums and his later images of Indonesian circus animals expose the human compulsion to represent animals and natural history as a reflection of ourselves, placing creatures in anthropomorphized frames or even presenting animals as replicas of humans. This compulsion is underlined by the visual kinship between Saksa’s photographs and classical portraiture.

In his recent work, Saksa examines portraiture from the viewpoint of animals. Contrary to human portraits, an animal’s identity or essence cannot be captured in a picture of its face. An animal’s identity resides in its all-pervasive corporeality and physicality and its particular mode of being in the world.

Saksa takes a special interest in art history and the historical functions of photography, harnessing the particular historical and instrumental properties of the photograph as part of his practice. Originally a documentary photographer, Saksa has since moved on to the domain of contemporary art and conceptual image-making.

Saksa constructs images that highlight the tension between the subject and its representation. In his most recent work, he reduces the image to a near-insubstantial pale spectrum – a technique inspired by his investigations into the politics of the image, news images of the Vietnam War, and the practice of publishing photographs in black-and-white rather than colour in order to fade or avoid showing the presence of blood.
Saksa photographs slaughtered animals and digitally washes out the flesh and blood so that it appears pure and white; at first glimpse, these organic masses alluding to inherently hideous, normally-hidden food industry processes appear as smooth and clean as classical marble statues.

Timo Valjakka

Translated by Silja Kudel

Perttu Saksa, Rose is a Rose 1
Rose is a Rose, 2017
Photograph, diasec, oak frame, 70 x 55 cm
Perttu Saksa, Rose is a Rose 2
Rose is a Rose, 2017
110 x 140 cm, photograph, diasec, oak frame

Perttu Saksa, Flesh
Flesh, 2017
Photograph, diasec, oak frame, 60 x 48 cm
Perttu Saksa, Blood
Blood, 2017
Collodion wet plate on aluminum, sandarac wax, oak frame, (2 x) 25 x 20,3 cm

b. 1977


2013– Doctoral Studies, The Aalto University, Helsinki
2008 Master of Fine Arts, The Finnish Academy of Arts
2001 Bachelor of Arts, The Lahti University of Applied Science
1999 The Iceland Academy of Arts

Solo Exhibitions

Silence as a Phrase, Helsinki Contemporary, Helsinki, Finland
Echo, Galleri Zebra, Karjaa, Finland

Gallery Hippolyte, ARCO, Madrid
A Kind of You, Ratamo Gallery, Jyväskylä, Finland

A Kind of You, Helsinki Contemporary, Helsinki, Finland
TR1 Art Hall, Tampere, Finland
Echo, Barsokevitch Photographic Centre, Kuopio, Finland
2012 Echo, Gallery Laboratory, Helsinki, Finland
2007 Valokuvia 2002 – 2007 Mikkeli Art Museum, St. Michel, Finland
2006 Gallery Hippolyte, Helsinki, Finland
Wait Until Dark, Galeri Iron inc, Copenhagen, Denmark
2005 Forever, Rantagalleria, Oulu, Finland
2003 Teoksia 2002-2003 Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland

Selected Group Exhibitions

Myyttinen Matka, Salo Art Museum, Salo, Finland

Maiseman aika, Mikkelin Taidemuseo, Mikkeli
Viidakko Tulvii, Sinkka -Keravan Taidemuseo, Kerava
Poliittisen Valokuvan Festivaali, Helsinki
Still Life Studies, Jukka Male Museo, Helsinki
Sideways Festival, Suvilahti, Helsinki

A Sense of Time – The Story of OMA’s Collection, Oulu Museum of Art, Oulu, Finland
Cielo, Perro, Lobo, GuatePhoto, National Archeology Museum,
Guatemala City

Fotofinlandia, Kuva & Kamera, Messukeskus Helsinki Exhibition
and Convention Centre, Helsinki, Finland
Festival Horizonte, Zingst, Germany
Sand in Vaseline, Black Market, Berlin, Germany
Loviisa Contemporary, Loviisa, Finland
The Pleasure of Negative Emotions, Knipsu, Bergen, Norway

Reality Bites, Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, Finland
Traveling with the Artist, Kuopio Art Museum, Kuopio Finland
Black Market, Berlin, Germany

Polaroid, Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland
Synti, Photographic centre Peri, Turku
Art Fair Suomi, Helsinki, Finland

Galeri Passage Du Desir, Paris, France
Oulu City Art Museum, Oulu, Finland
Galleri Zebra, Karis, Finland

Art Fair Suomi, Helsinki, Finland

New Generation, Etagi, Saint-Petersburg, Russia

New Generation, Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki, Finland
Collection Works, Helsinki City Art Museum, Helsinki, Finland
Whats up man, Keravan taidemuseo, Kerava, Finland

From North, Museum St. Peter an der Sperr, Neustadt, Austria
Northern Cities, Landesgalerie Eisenstadt, Eisenstadt, Austria
IAW, Peace Museum, Chicago, USA
Northern Cities, Vorarlberger Landesmuseum, Bregenz, Austria

Northern Cities, Felleshus, Berlin, Germany
Northern Cities, Troms Kulturforening, Tromso, Norway
Sisu – Images from Finland, Gallery G4, Cheb, Chezch
Collection Works, Keravan taidemuseo, Kerava, Finland

Swan Song, Holden Gallery, Manchester, England
Stockholm Art Fair, Nordic Academies, Stockholm, Sweden
Northern Cities, Kerava City Art Museum, Kerava, Finland
Northern Cities, Oulu City Art Museum, Oulu, Finland
Northern Cities, Aine Art Museum, Finland

How to Send a Message, Kalemegdan, Belgrad, Serbia
Someone Else’s Problem, Balat, Istanbul, Turkey
103th Finnish Artist’s Exhibition, Arthall, Helsinki
IAW, Galerie Lichtblick, Köln, Germany

Globalism- meetings, Plovdiv Festival, Plovdiv, Bulgaria
3/3, Bildens Hus Museet, Sundsvall, Sweden
3/3, Sanomatalo, Mediatori, Helsinki, Finland
3/3, Photographic centre Peri, Turku, Finland

Correlations, Fotoforum West, Innsbruck, Austria
Rajamaat, Victor Barsokevitch Museum, Kuopio, Finland
Correlations, Photo-Galeri Wien, Austria
Dissonansies and collisions, Phototage Herten, Germany
Aboa Ventus – Ars Nova, Turku, Finland
Light & Space, Art Hall, Helsinki, Finland
Savonlinna Art Museum, Savonlinna, Finland
Dissonancies & Collisions, Kiel Stadt Galeri, Kiel, Germany

Works in Collections

State of Finland
 Kiasma – Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki
Museum of Photography, Helsinki
The Polaroid Collection, Paris, France
Bildens Hus, Sundsvall, Sweden
Jenny & Antti Wihuri Foundation
Kuopio Art Museum
Rovaniemi City Art Museum
Helsinki City Art Museum
 Saastamoinen Foundation
EMMA – Espoo Museum of Modern Art
Mikkeli Art Museum
Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki
Oulu City Art Museum
Northern Photography Center
Private Collections, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany

Grants and Awards

Fotofinlandia, 1st Prize 2014
Finnish Cultural Foundation, 3 Year Working Grant 2014-2016
Kordelin Foundation
Arts Council of Finland
Finnfoto ry. 
 Finnish Art Associaton, Young Artist Stipendium 2004
Art Academy of Finland Scholarship 2004