Tero Puha’s photographs that explore the male body in an almost clinically aestheticising manner also go together with the works in The Finnish Museum of Photography’s Voltti (Somersault – The Art of Sports) exhibition, which deal with corporeality.
What is at issue here is actually a highly externalised sense of the body, a dismembered carnality aestheticised to the point of being hermetically sanitised. Here we come close to Robert Mapplethorpe’s images of men; Puha, too, has flesh flowers. The pictures are powerful, despite, in all their eroticism, being distanced in a studio-like manner. Even the nicks, the blemishes that have appeared on the skin look like coded signs, like enhancements.
Everything in the pictures, starting with their graininess, serves a deliberate immaculateness. Yet, despite this, or perhaps because of it, these people reflect something sadly unattainable and unrealised. Shaven-headed men with gorgeous bodies look with narcissistic infatuation at their own kind, at themselves. The appearance of the men in the pictures, even a kind of presence, is visually powerful, and yet Puha always has built a subtle strangeness, an artificiality, into his pictures. In this world even a fault has to be introduced separately into the flawless image.
Since the Finnish for the title of the exhibition Autopsy of Love is either "Rakkauden ruumiinavaus" (autopsy of love) or "Rakkauden omin silmin näkeminen" (seeing love with your own eyes), all this can be interpreted as a submissive declaration that ‘true’ profundity in a human encounter is a vain illusion, that ultimately we cannot fall in love with anything but an image of the other.
Autopsy of Love
Finnish Museum of Photography (2002)
Photographic Center Peri, Turku (2003)
NARCISISM BURST INTO BLOOM
PESSI RAUTIO / HELSINGIN SANOMAT 13.7.2002