Viewfinder! – Fifty years of student photography

The photo exhibition Etsin! Sökare! Viewfinder! was opened at the Helsinki University Museum Arppeanum at the beginning of November. The exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the student photographic association Ylioppilaskamerat.

Amanuensis Pia Vuorikoski in front of Elina Brotherus' photographs.

According to amanuensis Pia Vuorikoski, the exhibition presents various photographic styles and a number of photographers. Some of them went on to become professional photographers and photo artists, while others chose a completely different career.

Founded in 1962, Ylioppilaskamerat (YOK) was the continuation of activities which, at the time, had already been going on for at least a decade. In 1982, the association launched its magazine Levottomat kuvat (“Restless images”), which in 1985, after three issues, was relaunched as the cultural magazine Image. The ambition was to create a magazine that soon would become self-sustained, which also happened.

Among the photos displayed are shots by Matti Enroth. One of YOK’s first chairpersons, he never became a professional photographer.

– Enroth participated in organising the giant project when the University Student Union commissioned photos for the first student cards with the holder’s picture. They took approximately 28,000 portraits, as a hobby, nobody got paid anything, Vuorikoski explains.

During Enroth’s time, YOK also took most of the pictures in the book about the University’s past and present, Helsingin yliopisto, historiaa ja nykypäivää, published in 1969.

Another famous personality whose photos are included in the exhibition is Janne Reitala. He is known as the "court physician" of Presidents Martti Ahtisaari and Tarja Halonen.

– But there was a time when Reitala considered a career change to photography, Vuorikoski says. – For a couple of years, he took photos of actors and the theatre scene. It meant a lot of late hours, however, and the actors wanted to influence his work too much, so he decided to stick with medicine.

There are also photos by Elina Brotherus in the exhibition.

– Originally, she studied chemistry at the University of Helsinki, but was later admitted to the University of Art and Design (nowadays Aalto University), says Vuorikoski.

– Brotherus is a major name in the world of art photography. She takes photos of herself, reflecting both her own identity and the history of art in her work. She borrows the titles of her works from earlier artists, and studies landscapes painted by artists during the early 19th century Romanticism.

Sökare! Etsin! Viewfinder! will be shown at Arppeanum, Snellmanninkatu 3, until 29 February 2012. There is no admission fee to the museum. On Sunday 27th November there is a free guide tour in Finnish at 14.00.

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Text and photo: Nadine Aschan
Translation: AAC Global
University of Helsinki, digital communications

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