Ville Kansanen

2015 Discovery of the Year

I was born in Finland in 1984 and have been working with photography for about ten years. The majority of my work is self-portraiture. I live and work in California. I am self-taught.

LANDSCAPE. I work in vast landscapes to study the human condition and the emergence of self. The act of being in them unlocks an emotional connection between humans and nature, initiating self-discovery. The landscape reveals the human being; the human being reveals the landscape. I prefer open spaces because of their sense of the infinite and because they facilitate an introspective focus, drawing from action and movement. The vast natural scene does not care if we are in it, if we are swallowed, lost or found. It is a vessel to analyze my connection to all living things as equals.

The landscapes I work in, the seamless, endless deserts and waterscapes, inform my sense of loneliness in the world. Personally, the feeling of being alone has been a constant in my life, a source of power as well as desperation. This desperation becomes silent and palpable when I enter these landscapes where being alone is all too real. Then, it no longer feels like a burden. There is comfort in the melancholy of loneliness when framed in a surrounding that permits almost no life and certainly no noise.

STRUCTURES. I create visual confines —frames— as a stage to execute different concepts, allowing for performativity. The structure relies on spontaneous stages and physical objects that move in an invisible choreography with my body and are assembled into still images. Presence is important to me; I want my work to look like something you could see in the world. My primary ethic is never to introduce elements that were not there during the act of capturing and structuring the frame. The light that falls on my body, objects, and the landscape affirms authenticity; all are present together when the images are captured.

SELF. As a practicing self-portrait artist; the added dimension of performance is exhilarating and revealing; allowing complete immersion. Using physical conditioning to increase awareness through diet, meditative restoration, running and yoga; my body is capable of informing my ideas and emotional space keeping careful equilibrium in my mind. The relationship is nuanced and intuitive. Given the technical difficulties and risks involved, along with immersion into painful feelings it often manifests as a full psychological and physical experience. The emotions elicited are often very hard, and lingering with them is as much a release, as it is a torture.

SILENCE. My themes emerge from silence; isolation, melancholy, grief, relief, introspection, gratitude, loneliness, peacefulness, regret, surrender, and even fear. Silence is traditionally considered a virtue in Finnish culture and a part of Finnish stoicism. When I work, I am reaching into an internal reservoir, which informs a visual and spiritual direction. I free associate with ideas until an impression surfaces. My goal is to maintain the purity of my unconscious and intuition until something, one can apply a rational measure of thinking to, emerges. The hope is to find raw honesty within and softly release it.

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