Play Work

Hertta Kiiski

2009 - Ongoing

I photograph childhood, girlhood and the domestic sphere. I do not, however, document everyday life. I photograph presence and the passage of time. The photographs show my own daughters and my niece. As photographic subjects, they are always aware of the examining gaze of the camera. Their active role as authors and performers have strengthened throughout the years towards equal collaboration.

A decade ago I woke to the idea that I could photograph my own daughters and my niece for purposes other than album cataloguing – on a more conceptual level. Portraying childhood reveals clearly the inevitable march of time. The limitations of existence and the intensity of being are emphasized in the recorded images. A child has an immediate intensity, her world does not involve reflexivity. But, little by little, the child's consciousness grows stronger.

The photoshoots are always arranged in advance with the applicable project-related rituals. The children are aware of the camera's probing stare and they know how to be (in) a picture. I do not want to photograph girls the way they often are: as fragile, enigmatic creatures. Instead, the photographs of the girls capture an embodied strength and sense of will. They are allowed to be agents/actors rather than mere objects. The girls are performers whose agency throughout the years has been geared towards equal cooperation. Playing and posing intermix.

They are playing and working, I am working and playing. I believe something can be light without being frivolous. I don't want the work to become drudgery, or compulsive. I try to let go of trying too hard and to give myself over to playing with reality and imagery. I'm guided by a vague feeling of something that I could access. I think about playing and discovery as a method. The destination comes into focus slowly, by doing. I also think of playing as the privilege of the artist, an alternative to work, an alternative way of being, a political choice.

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