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Based in Helsinki, available for editorial & commercial assignments worldwide.

Gallery representation:
Gallery Halmetoja
Kalevankatu 16, 00010 Helsinki, Finland
+358 44 215 3005


Joel Karppanen (b. 1993) is a visual artist, photographer, filmmaker, writer and critic from Finland. He also serves as the artistic director of Oulu Music Video Festival. 

Karppanen is especially known for personal, long-term documentary photography series, often described as "historically-aware" , "honest" and "sensitive". He has received recognition including New Photo Journalist Award and Young Hero Grant in 2017. His first monograph 'Finnish Pastoral' was published in 2018; the same year he participated in We Feed The World, a global photographic exhibition in London, featuring names such as Martin Parr, Susanna Meiselas and Graciela Iturbide.

In 2019 Karppanen had his first museum solo show in the Aine Art Museum. Furthermore his works have been exhibited in Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma, KunstHausWien and Mänttä Art Festival among others. Karppanen's works can be found in various collections including The Finnish State Art Commission, The Finnish Museum of Photography and  Jenny and Antti Wihuri Foundation. 

As a filmmaker Karppanen has directed several experimental short films and music videos which have been screened in international film festivals. He's currently working on his first feature-length film as part of AVEK Talent Development Lab.  

Karppane's written work have been published in Long Play, Helsingin Sanomat, Suomen Kuvalehti, Yle, Ylioppilaslehti, Nuori Voima and Taide-lehti.  

Originally from Northern Finland, Karppanen lives and works now in Helsinki, Finland. 

Click here for Full CV

Artist statement

I make photographs, films and pieces of literature – all non-fiction. Sometimes my work is highly personal, yet I believe that the most intimate things ultimately render universal: my work about myself is not about me, it is about the human condition.

I began my career as a photojournalist but soon found out that I was just living a romantized myth of the heroic, concerned photographer, prolonging the tradition of colonialistic image-making. Shaken by that notion I decided it was time to look closer at myself and the culture I live in. Nowadays I work in the intersection of new documentary, conceptual post-documentary and personal photography, making exhibitions and books of my long-term projects. Themes I'm interested include but are not limited to: labor, class, memory, masculinity, sexuality and posthumanism.

As a filmmaker I’m interested in narrative-free experimental documentaries and found footage. I believe the most radical political potentiality of art lies first and foremost in the form. My practice is godardian: montage is the rock on which cinema is built. In my usage of archives time collides and the past acts out in the present. It is a matter of reflective nostalgia, which according to cultural theorist Svetlana Boym dwells on the ambivalences of human longing and belonging while cherishing the shattered fragments of memory. Reflective nostalgia acknowledges that the past cannot be re-created but by critically reflecting upon its desires it can question uniformity and feed our sense of possibility.

My essays share the same qualities as my visual art: tenderness, emotionality, quiet melancholy and the juxtaposition of sincerity and irony. Somehow writing is similar to taking photographs or editing (found footage) films as all mediums use life as their prime raw materials. So why I write is also why I make art: not only to figure out things that bother and boggle, not only to understand myself and others, but eventually to confront the fear of death through the act of well-lived life.