Category: Finland

Sweet Song of Harlem

By Carley Townsend and Beatrice Antonie Martino

Finnish photographer Jaakko Heikkilä doesn’t travel – he stays. Sometimes, he lingers long enough that you’ll fall asleep to the low hypnotic hum of the camera. At least, that’s what happened when Heikkilä photographed Jill, normally lively and hyperactive, suddenly still, quiet, untroubled. With a panoramic camera in hand, each shot takes a full minute, if not more, to develop, imposing a necessary stillness on each moment – a collection of fleeting eternities. Coaxed by a rhythmic repetition of “Lie down” – Click – “Rest your eyes” – buzz – “be still”– silence, Jill turns posing into repose. Heikkilä elicits a sense of magic as focus dances from detail to detail. Time stops, and the stillness deepens the relationship between viewer and subject. 

Jill in Her Living Room, 2003

I have been sitting a lot in kitchens with people, when nothing happens. Total silence. I like to meet people in that silence. It is more intensive, more intimate. I can come closer when nothing else is happening around. That sense of silence, that sense of slowness, it is the same as the photograph. The panoramic lens is rolling like that, silent, slowly. One image taking one minute.

We live in a world where everything is always moving, moving, moving. Everyone is racing to be better than the next. In a society where life is all about motion and distraction, silence and emptiness are revolutionary, radical acts. What does it mean to simply be

Heikkilä has mastered the act of radical stillness, connecting to the inherent beauty, integrity, and inner magic of the other – sitting opposite his camera lens. The subjects of Heikkilä’s photographs live whole and multifaceted lives with or without us – we are simply invited to linger … Click here to read more