Jaakko Heikkilä

Jaakko Heikkilä: from the series Innocent Shores (Coney Island, New York), 2003

Photographer Jaakko Heikkilä has a special relationship with New York, especially with a certain Harlem block in West 150 Street between Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue. During his first residency period in New York in 2001, he got acquainted with a local Harlem-based family. They suggested Heikkilä should photograph the block they lived in—and that is how Heikkilä’s long-term relationship with the neighborhood sparked off. 

Since then Heikkilä has spent a month or two in Harlem almost every year, recording the lives of the neighborhood’s tenants with his camera. The humorous and warmhearted photographs show the close relationship between the artist and his subjects, providing the viewer with an access to the private sphere of city life.

Heikkilä describes his approach to his work as a kind of community-based work, which he is specialized in as an artist. His work often concentrates on the wounds and fractures of globally oriented societies and cultures.

Heikkilä started working as a photographer in the 1990s, interpreting the cultural scene in the Tornio River Valley, at the Northern border of Finland and Sweden. Ever since then he has expanded his photographing journeys to other minority communities in various parts of the world, covering locations from Armenia to Los Angeles and from Eastern Serbia to Brazil.


Jaakko Heikkilä: from the series Archeology of New York, 2009