ELINA BROTHERUS: A BIOGRAPHY

Elina Brotherus lives and works in Helsinki, Finland and Avallon, France. She has an MA degree in Photography from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (2000) and a MSc in Chemistry from the University of Helsinki (1997). She started exhibiting internationally in 1998 while still in art school. Recent solo exhibitions include Le Pavillon Populaire, Montpellier ; Fotohof, Salzburg (2016) ; gb agency, Paris ; Martin Asbaek Gallery, Copenhagen (2015) ; The Wapping Project Bankside, London (2014) ; Optica center for contemporary art, Montréal (2013) ;  Bloomberg SPACE, London (2010). Recent group exhibitions include Neue Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin ; Serlachius Museum, Mänttä, Finland ; Finnish National Gallery Ateneum, Helsinki (2015) ; Belfast Exposed ; Fotografie Forum Frankfurt ; Museum of Contemporary Photography, Chicago ; Tri Postale, Lille (2014) ; The Photographers’ Gallery, London ; Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki (2013) ; Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark ; Bozar Palais des Beaux-Arts, Brussels (2012). 

Her works are in public collections like the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP), France, Fondación ARCO, Madrid, Fondation Kadist, Paris, Hasselblad Center, Gothemburg, Koç Foundation, Istanbul, Moderna Museet, Stockholm, Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne, Museo nazionale delle arti del XXI secolo (MAXXI), Rome, and The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki. She has received several awards among which are the Prix Niépce in France 2005 and the Finnish State Prize for Photography in 2008.

Elina Brotherus' work has been given prominence in numerous art and photography books and reviews. Her new monograph Carpe Fucking Diem was published in November 2015 by Kehrer Verlag. Previously she has released five monographs: 12 ans après (Sémiosquare/self-published, Helsinki 2015), Artist and her model (Le Caillou bleu, Brussels 2012), Études d'après modèle, danseurs (Les éditions Textuel, Paris 2007), The New Painting (Next Level, London 2005), and Decisive Days (Kustannus Pohjoinen, Oulu 2002).

I only can acknowledge that work follows life. I made autobiographical self-portraits in the very beginning of my career when still in art school. At that time I simultaneously finished my previous university studies of chemistry and my first marriage. It was a major liberation on all fronts and it had to become visible in my photography. Then, for ten years, I did other things - I was interested in painting, the way artists look at their models and how to represent this in a picture. I was using myself as a model but the photos didn’t talk about what was going on in my life. I was an image-maker, dealing with formal, visual and art-historical issues. Then I approached 40 and life got complicated and the autobiography sneaked in again. It wasn’t anything I planned but I didn’t push it back either. This is my strategy as an artist: to accept the pictures that need to happen. The resulting series Annonciation (2009-2013) and Carpe Fucking Diem (2011-2015) are different than, say, The New Painting (2000-2005) precisely because the emotion behind the scenes is the driving force of the making. But it doesn’t mean that you can’t look at them as pure pictures too. You can stay on the surface and enjoy the photographic qualities, or you can delve into the story if you want to.