Tilaa uutiskirje

In Strindberg´s Rooms #2, 2017, – 
just when I walk here, © Marja Pirilä - pigment print, 114 x 147 cm

Marja Pirilä: Because of Light

20.1. - 17.3.2024

At the core of photographic artist Marja Pirilä’s exhibition is light and its enchantment. Produced by the Finnish Art Society, the exhibition presents works by the camera obscura pioneer from the 1980s until the present day, ranging from photography to video and three-dimensional camera obscuras. 

Pirilä works in ways that deviate from traditional photography, with particular focus on the camera obscura method, which she has been exploring for 30 years. She uses this technique to map out both living environments and mental landscapes, summoning subconscious emotions into the light of day. Pirilä’s photographic projects span several years and alongside light, they are guided by silence and wonder.

Marja Pirilä shows us the everyday world in an unexpected light. In order to create her works, she transforms entire rooms, or even buildings, into camera obscuras. In these dark rooms Pirilä works simultaneously with two instruments from historically disparate time periods: she takes pictures with a contemporary camera inside a camera obscura. The light flooding into an unlit space through a small hole transports reflections from the world outside. When these reflections intertwine with the inner space of the camera obscura, the light creates a third reality in the images. In Pirilä’s works, we witness the diverse and poetic nature of the real world.

The exhibition features a sound- scape by Tapani Rinne. The three- dimensional camera obscura works and videos are the result of a collaboration with Petri Nuutinen and Iris Nuutinen. Asko Mäkelä also took part in the design of the exhibition, which was produced by the Finnish Art Society. In connection with the exhibition, Pirilä’s photography book, “Because of Light”, which also functions as a camera obscura, will be published.

Marja Pirilä graduated from the Photography department of the University of Art and Design Helsinki (now Aalto University) and as a biologist (M.Sc.) from the University of Helsinki in 1986. In 2000, she was awarded Finland’s State Prize for Photographic Art, in 2010 the Pirkanmaa Art Prize, and in 2020 the Alfred Kordelin Prize for the development, creative use, and popularisation of the camera obscura method. Pirilä’s works have been presented in numerous exhibitions in Finland and in various parts of Europe, North and South America, and Asia.

The exhibition has been supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the book project by Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Finnfoto, the Finnish Art Society, and the Greta and William Lehtinen Foundation.


Athanasius Kircher, Camera obscura, 1646

In Strindberg´s Rooms #2, 2017, – 
just when I walk here, © Marja Pirilä - pigment print, 114 x 147 cm