Laia Abril: A History of Misogyny, Chapter One: On Abortion

Laia Abril’s (b. 1986) long-term project A History of Misogyny (2016, ongoing) is a visual research undertaken through historical and contemporary comparisons. In her first chapter, On Abortion, Abril documents and conceptualizes the dangers and damages caused by women’s lack of legal, safe and free access to abortion. Continuing with her painstaking research methodology, Abril draws on the past to highlight the long, continuous erosion of women’s reproductive rights to present-day. Her collection of visual, audio and textual evidence weaves a net of questions about ethics and morality, and reveals a staggering series of social triggers, stigmas, and taboos around abortion that have been invisible until now.

Under “natural” circumstances, the average woman would get pregnant about 15 times in her life, resulting in ten births. Seven of those babies would survive childhood. For centuries, people have searched for ways to delay or terminate pregnancy. Today, safe and efficient means of abortion finally exist, yet women around the world continue to use ancient, illegal or risky home methods: Every year, 47,000 women around the world die due to botched abortions. Across countries and religions, millions of women are blocked from abortion technologies by law and social coercion, and are forced to carry pregnancies to term against their will. Some are minors and rape victims. For many, the pregnancy is not viable or poses a health risk. But all can be criminalized for trying to abort. In violation of patient confidentiality codes, doctors and healthcare providers have been known report women seeking illegal abortions, even when is medically necessary to save the patient’s life.


POTENTIALITY

8.3.–26.5.2019
The Finnish Museum of Photography



Darya Apakhonchich: Relax for Men

Darya Apakhonchich (born 1985) is a St. Petersburg artist and teacher whose series of works, Relax for Men (2016, ongoing), shows how sex work, which is mostly based on exploitation and corruption, is advertised in public spaces in her hometown of St. Petersburg. The photographs are the artist’s statement, constituting activism in a public space.The advertisements with the text “отдых”, which freely translate as “relax” or “relax for men”, are painted on the street, accompanied by telephone numbers. These euphemisms alongside women’s first names are used to advertise prostitution in Russia, which, despite being illegal, is a major and visible problem in the country. Sex workers are one of the most socially marginalised population groups, whose practitioners are treated arbitrarily and threatened by physical violence.

According to Apakhonchich, there are large numbers of brothels in her hometown of St. Petersburg and the advertisements have spread everywhere. Advertising prostitution is illegal, but according to the artist, cities are in no hurry to clear the advertisements, because the financial interests of those in power are often linked to human trafficking.


POTENTIALITY

8.3.–26.5.2019
The Finnish Museum of Photography



Airin Bahmani: Equal on the Mountains

“The degree of freedom of a society is reflected in the degree of freedom of women.”

A Persian slogan on the exterior wall of a building


The Iranian-Finnish human rights activist and photographer Airin Bahmani (born 1990) has documented the self-organised miniature society formed by Kurds who have fled from Iran to the mountains in Iraqi territory. The underlying principles of this community are gender equality and participatory democracy. The political and social culture of the community established in the mountains is based on equality and freedom of religion, which are not a reality in Iran’s current political system.

Iranians who flee to the border area come from a variety of backgrounds and are running away for a variety of reasons, including political persecution by the Iranian government. In Iran, many have been subjected to arbitrary prison sentences of several years. Many have been tortured and their family members have been executed. Some of the guerrillas living in the mountains have recently crossed the border between the two countries, while others fled the country already in the 1980s, after the Iranian Revolution.

The self-organised community of the left-wing, Iranian-Kurdish diaspora is a military base. Because of its views on society, the community has been attacked by both the Iranian government and Iraqi Islamist groups, which is why it protects itself using military means.

The photography series was realised with support from the Patricia Seppälä Foundation.

POTENTIALITY

8.3.–26.5.2019
The Finnish Museum of Photography




Pekka Elomaa and the Lyhty Workshop:
James Bond Nieminen and Other Portraits

The series of works by the Lyhty photography workshop participants draws on the shared passion of the creators for James Bond films. The Lyhty photography workshops set out from the starting points of the participants. The important thing is to work as a team. The images created in the workshops help strangers to meet each other, and give a voice to people for whom speech may not always be the most fluent form of expression. Pekka Elomaa has worked as a volunteer workshop instructor for almost 20 years.

At long last, there is a wider debate in Finland about the rights of people with intellectual disabilities, the importance of accessibility, and a critique of ableism (discrimination in favour of able-bodied people). Finland has been among the last countries in Europe to prevent discrimination against people with disabilities. Finland did not ratify the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which guarantees full human rights for people with disabilities, until 2016. The convention is still not implemented everywhere. Often, people with intellectual disabilities are confined to routine-filled lives at institutions. The Lyhty association wants to show that there are other activities that they can engage in.

Instructors of the photography workshop: Photographers Pekka Elomaa and Miska Reimaluoto
Photography workshop participants:
Kristian Barck, Valtteri Kleemola, Jaakko Nieminen, Tanya Palmgren and Jarmo Tähtinen
Video editing: Otto Jahnukainen


POTENTIALITy

8.3.–26.5.2019
The Finnish Museum of Photography