Riitta Päiväläinen

Riitta Paivalainen

Riitta produces ghostly psuedo-sculptures by wrapping linens around, and arranging clothing in, trees and scrub. By presenting her work as photographs she can use the environment she’s working with as part of her piece, giving her sculptures an environment within which to live; suggesting the passing passage of time and a record of events that have already happened.

Riitta Paivalainen
Riitta Paivalainen
Riitta Paivalainen

I was introduced to the work of Finnish Photographer Riitta Päiväläinen by my upstairs neighbour in a book by photographers from the Helsinki School in Finland.

Riitta produces ghostly psuedo-sculptures by wrapping linens around, and arranging clothing in, trees and scrub. By presenting her work as photographs she can use the environment she’s working with as part of her piece, giving her sculptures an environment within which to live; suggesting the passing passage of time and a record of events that have already happened.

In her statement Riitta explains her concept and process:

“The main theme and primary driving force of my work is my interest in old clothing. In my photographs, I use discarded clothes from second-hand shops and flea markets. I am interested in old garments, because they carry silent, unknown stories and histories. The unavoidable fact that I will never know the actual stories and personal histories connected with the clothes arouses my curiosity. The clothes remain silent withholding their secrets. Little by little, personal histories are absorbed into the collective history.”

“For me, a piece of clothing represents, above all, its former wearer. It tells you that somebody has been present. However, the person who wore it is now gone. The faded colours and tears in the fabric show the signs of the time passed. By freezing the garment or letting the wind fill it with air, I am able to create a sculptural space, which reminds me of its former user. This ‘Imaginary Meeting’ represents, for me, the subtle distinction between absence and presence.”

More information about Riitta Päiväläinen at the Helsinki School website. Her book ‘Imaginary Meetings’ is available from publisher Kehrer Verlag.

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