2018 NOV–DEC

Photographic artist Niko Luoma challenges the analog medium

Luoma’s method resembles painting or drawing more than photography in the traditional sense of the word. He will spend two months in New York November – December 2018 to work on his upcoming retrospective monograph, set to be published in Spring 2019.

Self-titled Adaptation of Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool (After David Hockney, 1966), 2018.

Self-titled Adaptation of Peter Getting Out of Nick’s Pool (After David Hockney, 1966), 2018.

Luoma will stay at the ISCP – International Studio and Curatorial Program with the support by Alfred Kordelin Foundation. Luoma is the first Finnish ISCP alumni to return to New York for two months: he was ISCP’s artist-in-residence in 2013 and has since had two solo exhibitions in New York at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery.

Could you describe your process as a photographic artist a bit – you use multiple exposures as a method, and see the process as an important part of the finished work.

I question the parameters and the possibilities of photography. My process is very simple. It has been stripped down so that only the essentials to produce a photograph are left. I use light that I color and shape, light-sensitive materials and a device that controls those two, which is the camera. I use repetition and layer information on one single piece of negative. That is the basic recipe for all of my work.

What drives you in your experimentation?

There is a famous saying that photography can never produce a first-time image, that it always represents something else. I started to question that statement. My photos don’t represent anything else than the process of their making. What I mean by that is that you can not go somewhere and produce a photograph that looks like my piece. The many layers of time made visible by the multiple exposures, create the final image.

While your work is quite abstract and you are not particularly interested in what happens in front of the camera in terms of the topic, you have still produced many works that are direct takes on important figurative artworks from art history, for example for your latest show in Gallerie Ruzicska, Salzburg.

If you look at just one part, one single exposure of my finished pieces, it does not carry any meaning. It’s just light. But I harvest hundreds, even thousands of these exposures and they create the meaning together. This process happens inside of the camera, so it does not really matter what the source of light is. In a way, my process resembles more painting or drawing than photography.

In the Gallerie Ruzicska exhibition, I’m playing around with the idea of how memory is connected to photography. Photography is often treated as an extension to memory. You take a picture of something because you want to remember it. There is a fraction of a second when the viewer sees my work, recognizes the title and compares their memory of the original painting to what they are seeing.

Self-titled Adaptation of Vincent’s Chair With His Pipe (After Vincent Van Gogh, 1888), 2018.

Self-titled Adaptation of Vincent’s Chair With His Pipe (After Vincent Van Gogh, 1888), 2018.

Was there something that drew you to these artworks specifically?

The most essential topic in my work is space. I’m interested in the organic quality and movement of space and the rhythm, the direction and the weight in these pieces. My renditions of the artworks address the dynamic, almost musical feel of them, without the burden of the topic that the paintings actually represent.