Mikael Siirilä

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I translate intense looking into small, contemplative silver gelatin photographs. I collect minute observations from my daily life, family and travels. Then, I recontextualise them in the darkroom with recurring reflections on self, absence, presence and identity.

My pictures are observations in a strict sense, captured with minimal if any interference with the subjects. This ontological prerequisite positions my gaze as an outsider. The pictures are not the result of creative imagination or representation but rather a subjective recognition and response, self-expression. I make pictures I can become lost in, desperate to see more, feel more and live more.

I still believe in the standalone picture, intentional and iconic. My photographs appear unapologetically poetic, quiet and meditative. Due to size, they ask the viewer to lean in and become aware of the image as an object. Fragmented, sometimes obscured and cropped subjects direct the viewer to feel presence outside the picture's edges.

I work exclusively with the silver gelatin process. I use overexposure, high acutance development and pure blue light to pronounce film grain and craft a graphic look. I use dominating black elements and negative spaces to reduce subjects to their essentials and lean towards the abstract. The warm golden-ivory toning with tea tannins helps the images feel familiar and approachable.

Untitled (shirt)
tea-toned silver gelatin photograph
Untitled (hands of shoulders)
tea-toned silver gelatin photograph

Mikael Siirilä (b. 1978) is a darkroom artist living and working in Helsinki, Finland.

United States
New York City
United States



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