Artist statement

It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence but their social existence that determines their consciousness” – Karl Marx

I am a documentary photographer and a filmmaker. I have devoted myself to personal, in-depth projects depicting ordinary people and social consciousness.

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 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 aim to 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, yet research plays a part in my work too. I am a photographer of a subject-matter and I always choose 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

Using Format