With her artistry, Anni Leppälä is interested in the inner experience and identification, and in light and how it creates meanings. As an experience, identification and recognising has to do with sensing something that is often non-verbal; a discovery of something meaningful or familiar in an undefined way – something she also looks for herself when looking at art. Anni is also interested in how the pictures shape the viewer; the transformation that takes place in that interaction of looking.
Anni Leppälä, Door with light, 2010. 40 x 30cm, Pigment print, mounted on aluminium.
How has your path been to where you are today?
I began studying photography in Turku at the Art Academy in the year 2000 right after I graduated from High School in my home town of Kuopio. I started my studies completely from scratch – I had only just dabbed a little bit with photography before, so beginning to studying photography felt wondrous; my studies played a central role in my interest for this field. After four intensive years in Turku, I continued studying for a MA-degree at the University of Art and Design (renamed as Aalto University) in Helsinki, wherefrom I eventually graduated in 2011. During the last years of my studies, I had quite a few exhibitions in Finland and abroad, which postponed my graduation.
From then on, I have been working as a visual artist showing my work in solo and group exhibitions, working on various artist residencies, and publishing two monograph books.
How would you describe yourself as a creator? I work in an intuitive manner: I very seldom plan my projects beforehand, rather I let opportunities lead the way. Very often it seems to be more interesting, what I can find in the photographs afterwards, rather than what I have been thinking about while taking the picture. This is also because, I am interested in what can be shown through the parallels between the pictures, how they bring out certain details and meanings in each other. The connections between the pictures are central in my work, but I don't work at all in series; rather new photographs become part of an expanding body of work, like members of different underlying threads that join them. Although the work evolves and changes over time, I try not to make clear distinctions between the old and new, for example, for an exhibition I usually choose both new and old work, juxtaposing the pieces with each other.
Anni Leppälä, Untitled (rose cloth), 2017. 34 x 25,5cm, Pigment print, collage, framed.
Anni Leppälä, Stairs (rose), 2017. 34 x 25,5cm, Pigment print, collage, framed.
How do you work? I get excited when I make or find connections between the pictures or when the light moves momentarily and becomes alive in front of my eyes. My process of working is divided into different stages: Taking the pictures (which often happens irregularly), looking at the pictures (and finding them "as new"), editing and choosing is crucial and can take a long time. Then last but not least, is the part of finding the concrete shape for the picture: choosing the material, the size, the printing and possible frame.
It’s funny that sometimes images go through this whole process but never end up in the exhibition, or they get exhibited only years later when they find the right context.
What about this home exhibition concept spoke to you?
I visited the home exhibition ‘Hetki’ last spring because I know the painter Eeva Peura, whose work was shown in the exhibition. I also found the idea tempting and fascinating – I think it’s good to find alternative environments for showing and looking at art; a home is a very interesting, private space where the work interacts with the furniture and atmosphere. I’m interested to see the work in this context because it shapes the ways of looking and possibly brings out new dimensions in the art works themselves.
Do you have any role models who have influenced your work?
In the beginning of my studies, I was really influenced by the photography and mixed media works of Ulla Jokisalo – especially the strong symbolism of her work. Thereafter, I have found inspiration much more broadly from painting, poetry and music
What is important to you?
The act of experiencing and feeling, the freedom to get absorbed in a visual world; to identify and treat things through that dimension.
How do you see the role of art?
The freedom of art is important; art doesn't have to carry any specific message or story, nor does it have a need to influence. It can just be quiet, humane, imperfect and open. However, creating art is related to a wish to share, and to a dream that one could understand something important, without words, about life and existence.
Anni Leppälä was part of Marcy's Sensual Closeness exhibition