Kaiho is a Finnish word evoking a feeling of melancholia for a lost paradise.  In her photographs, Susan E. Evans explores identity retrospectively and contemporaneously through images made in Finland after discovering that her maternal ancestors originated there.  These images reveal the Finnish landscape accumulatively and poetically; they also explore deeper memories using the very earth itself as a metaphor for identity.  Kaiho includes four bodies of work.  In Luonnonkaunis Suomi, she buried rolls of 120 Kodak film in rural sites around Finland, documenting their location and then later disinterring the moldering film rolls as evidence of the effects of earth of her origins on the materiel of her trade. 

The Kaiho landscape photographs skillfully render the Finnish countryside without seeming to enter into it completely, keeping us slightly at a distance from the intimacy of actually being there, making her images all the more like lamentations for a remembered place recently reclaimed from a tangled history. Evans’ panoramic Maisema series are an amalgam of all the hues and tones that conceptually resonate in the Kaiho landscapes. Rounding off the Kaiho oeuvre, the fourth body of work, Ylevä, comprises a series of videos, which focus (and un-focus) meditatively on singular vistas. History, identity, memory and place are authentic catalysts that in these new parallel bodies of work legitimize Evans’ emotionally wrought, reflexive vistas, which have become embodiments of her identity.

Curated by Dick Goody. Full-color catalogue available.

Artist’s Talk: Susan E. Evans, Wednesday, September 17 at noon

Susan E. Evans: Kaiho

September 2014

by John Corso Esquivel

20 pages