“It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness” – Karl Marx
I am a photographer and a filmmaker. I have devoted myself to personal, in-depth projects depicting ordinary people and social existence. My practice is founded on ideals of social realism and humanist photography with contemporary, political discourse. I believe in Teemu Mäki's idea of art being the most comprehensive form of politics and philosophy.
In the core of my work lies an uncompromising interest in observing human life. My works can be read as both documents of an autobiographical introspection and studies of social and ecological contexts. I am particularly interested in ordinariness: how do we define it and how does it appear? I strive to find magic and beauty in commonplace things. I have an ability to see wider meanings in small details and distill them into sensations that illustrate the significance of everyday life. I photograph like Maggie Nelson writes, to dramatize “the ways in which we are for another and by virtue of another, not in a single instance, but from the start and always”. In my films those thematics of mundane are manifested by using archive videos.
I am influenced by cinema and literature but scientific research plays a part in my work too. I always chose subjects that are emotionally and geographically near me. It is a statement against capitalist realism: privileged photographers find their subjects far away even though the problems they are documenting originate in West. The time is up for heroic photographers. Now we have to look at ourselves.
– Joel Karppanen