The course notes refer to Elina Brotherus as follows:
“Elina Brotherus is a contemporary photographer who has become renowned for her vulnerable and honest depictions of herself and her experiences. She has a varied and diverse approach to her photography practice but often includes herself in her work, both as an exploration of herself and as a study of her circumstances.”
According to her website:
“Elina Brotherus lives and works in Helsinki, Finland and Avallon, France. She has an MA degree in Photography from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (2000) and a MSc in Chemistry from the University of Helsinki (1997). She started exhibiting internationally in 1998 while still in art school.”
In exploring her work, mainly through her website, the link with Francesca Woodman is obvious in early work such as Model Studies (2002-2008) Some images, particularly involving mirrors show this link very strongly, but the overall effect is not as dark as Woodman’s work.
Other work such as Artists at Work (2009), explores ideas of who is the artist and who is the model. The series develops to include in the image painters who are at work painting the artist/model who in turn has a camera pointed back towards the viewers. The end result is an amusing collage of artist/models which also somehow includes the viewer of the work.
More recent work such as Les Femmes de la Maison Carré (2015), place the artist as the seemingly only occupant of the building Maison Louis Carré (1959) near Paris. Susanna Petterson, Director of the Finnish National Gallery Ateneum writes about the series:
“The photographs in Les Femmes de la Maison Carré are at once composed and natural. They are direct yet mysterious. They live in this moment and in the past. They effortlessly make use of the house and its surroundings. In practice, Brotherus walks into one of the most iconic buildings of modern architecture and makes the experience completely her own.”
Some of the scenes such as the one below remind me of Gregory Crewdson. There is an air of mystery – that we’re in the middle of a story and we can’t help but be curious about what it is. Crewdson would take a more cinematic approach, primarily through lighting, but same sense of narrative is there.
The connection with the artist’s own life is continued in Carpe Fucking Diem (2011-2015) which contains images (syringes, a child’s rocking horse) and the following image which we can’t help but see as a reflection of her bitterness at not being able to fall pregnant, even with IVF treatment.