Woman Crush Wednesday: Iiu Susiraja
Iiu Susiraja is a Finnish and Finland-based photographer. By turning the camera onto herself, she documents freedom of self expression and the freedom of turning the privacy and intimacy of one's home into public domain. Her self portraits are layered, strategized, and down-right funny.
Interview by Hallie Neely
First and foremost, what made you begin this project? Had you experimented with self portraits prior to this project?
I wanted tell my story. I figured out how to survive in life. And I chose art. Or actually, art chose me. I am not good at drawing, so it is easier for me to describe a person by camera. I like that person is in the picture, and I even like the feeling that the picture describes the person (if it is a still life picture). No, I have not earlier experimented with self portraits.
These photographs are great because they feel so liberating. Everyone does "strange" things in the comfort of their home, and most people find ways of expressing themselves, but not everyone documents it. They are all taken your home, but not all in the same room on the same day, saying the same thing. What kind of work goes into planning and setting up each shot?
- I listen to music in bed and think about different objects.
- I list items on paper.
- I think about what is an interesting or strange act with the object.
- I buy the items if they are not found in my home.
- I look at the weather in the morning (I do not use lamps so sunlight is important).
- I put the camera on the stand.
- I take the object and do act with it. (I do not repeat the act many times. Sometimes it must be successful in one take, if the object is ruined after act).
- Finally, I will transfer the material to my computer and make selections.
This work feels quiet, still, and relaxing, but after a while I can tell they are screaming with stories and experiences. How did you figure that the best way to express yourself would be through blank stares?
Empty stare is my shield. I do not want to tell too much about myself to the viewer.
I saw from the show you had at the Ramiken Crucible gallery at the end of last year that you also work with video. Can you talk about the decision to film certain shots rather than photograph them and keep them as still images?
An object and act determines its work as a photo or video. In my mind comes a bright picture, and right away that picture is a video or a photo.
I read that you think you'll continue shooting in your home because it's what works best with you, but you're conscious of the fact that you will eventually photograph the entire space and then will have to change things up. Is the backdrop of a domestic space enough for this project, or is it important that you are in your home with your food and household objects?
I've changed a lot of places where I have lived in. But I do not change that much anymore. I understand the problem in my art is that I can end up with the place. For example, I would not be able to photograph a hotel. I have to have a relationship with a place. Artists' residences maybe can sometimes be a solution to this problem.
How would you describe your creative process in one word?
If you could teach a one, one-hour class on anything, what would it be?
How do love the deadlines?
What is the last film you saw or book you read that inspired you?
I like to watch documentaries. The last one was about Mika Rättö; he is a Finnish artist. He is the singer of the band Circle. And he is also a composer, a director, an actor, an art painter, and an author.
What is the most played song in your music library?
Pink Floyd: us and them.
How do you take your coffee?
My coffee has to contain caffeine and a little bit of nonfat milk.