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Elina Brotherus


Die Rolle des Modells

Exhibition view, Elina Brotherus, “Die Rolle des Modells“, 2016, © FOTOHOF
The twenty-year retrospective curated by Gilles Mora for the Pavillon Populaire in Montpellier features the photographic and cinematic work of Finnish artist Elina Brotherus, now also to be shown in Austria for the first time.
The exhibition focuses on the role of the model in the artist’s work; after its run at FOTOHOF, it is scheduled to go on show at the Turku Art Museum. In 1840 the mysterious self-portrait of the (co-)inventor of photography, Hippolyte Bayard, had caused widespread wonderment and consternation. The staged photograph of himself as a drowned man was designed to convey the pain and anguish he had felt at the lack of recognition for his groundbreaking achievements. It was also the first instance of a photographer seizing the opportunity to slip into the role of model.
Elina Brotherus, "Annonciation", 2009

This interplay is also a central theme in the work of Elina Brotherus (along with her interest in landscapes), and it expressed itself early on in her creative output as psychological self-portrayals. As with Claude Cahun before her and perhaps also Cindy Sherman, the self-staging is to be seen here not just as part of a reflection on one’s own sense of self between catharsis and play, but also more generally as a reference to the visual arts. Continually working on the image and an autonomous appearance within that image affords the artist the freedom to confide in intimate moments with the viewer in a sort of soliloquy, albeit in encrypted form; and, as an ally, the viewer is then able to join her as she embarks on her wanderings and travels around the world.

Elina Brotherus, "Bed Sheet", 2013