Katri Lassila and her next book “Sky Chasm”
By Christopher Osborne
Finnish photographer Katri Lassila is passionate about the medium of photobooks. “Photobooks are one of the best ways of showing silver gelatin prints. There is a kind of intimacy and the reader can move at their own pace.
At Silvergrain Classics, we normally review books which have recently been released. And certainly, books which are in print. It is unusual to talk to an artist who is still in the process of creating a photobook.
Finnish photographer Katri Lassila is passionate about the medium of photobooks. “Photobooks are one of the best ways of showing silver gelatin prints. There is a kind of intimacy and the reader can move at their own pace. And it is easier to appreciate work than in a crowded (pre-Covid) gallery”, she says. “And the trend towards galleries hanging larger and larger prints doesn’t suit an artist who makes her work in the darkroom”. Although, she has noticed “the trend reversing as audiences are increasingly appreciating handmade objects”.
Many photographers have struggled to make new work 2020. For Katri, the solution was to create a book from her back collection of landscape images. Her initial concept was to make a collection of the best images from the archive that she has amassed over twenty years. But as she began selecting images, it became apparent that the result was “a bit dull”.
She turned to her aunt Leena Krohn who is a professional writer for help. She asked her to write a poem, and provided some of the images that she was considering. Some of the images became the inspiration for not one, but five poems, and the themes from these poems provided inspiration for a new and very different edit.
The themes are Roots, Spirits of the Forest, Calm, For Water and Depart, and the images have been selected to acknowledge elements of Finnish heritage and culture.
“Roots” are represented by dramatic images of tree roots taken in Lapland, and Katri sees this as a reference to the Sámi people who inhabit the northern Baltic states.
“Spirits of the Forest” is a collection of landscapes.
“Calm” is represented by images of still water. “I love photographing water. The still surface makes one of the most interesting subjects to print in the darkroom”, explains Katri. “You can print very dark and strong or light and delicate. And, the result always looks interesting”.
“For Water” is a collection of water in different forms, and is in part inspired by a visit to an exhibition at the Greenwich Maritime Museum, where Katri saw Ansel Adam’s “Clearing Winter Storm” taken in 1944. “I don’t burst into tears very easily, but I started crying through the sheer happiness of seeing it”, recalls Katri.
“Depart” features people and animals in different forms. All are leaving the frame. Katri has selected “distant images, which just seemed to feel better. It creates a mood which is a little bit sad and melancholic”.
I ask Katri about the result. “I am really happy that I haven’t just made a collection of landscapes. I have always liked working with themes”. She continues, “The result goes beyond the landscape. It is important to recognise how Finland’s minorities, both the Sámi people, and those of Swedish descent have been marginalised. There are questions about equality. Questions about how we use the land. And our impact on the land, through mining for example”.
We talk about what happens next. Katri will show the edit to her aunt Leena, and this may lead to another iteration.
Katri envisages a modest print run of 100 small books, each numbered and sold with an accompanying silver gelatin print. She has already started applying for grants from arts organisations to cover the print cost estimated to be €4,600. If these fail, then running a campaign on the Finnish crowdfunding site Mesenaatti.me may be an alternative.
Katri can be found at www.katrilassila.com and on Instagram as @klassila
All images © Katri Lassila 2020
We have a favour to ask. We want to make these online articles free to the world. We see it as our contribution to the photographic community. You can help by subscribing to our awesome analogue photography magazine – https://shop.silvergrainclassics.com/subscriptions/