maija tammi

leftover

maija tammi leftover 2

source: sabinbors
Leftover presents a series of used radiotherapy masks collected from three different university hospitals and examines the fear of sickness and the borders of beauty.

Maija Tammi has used the masks as repositories of the traces left behind by the patients who wore them. These traces refer to “fear” as something most often eluded when dealing with a patient’s disease and the attempts to reassure patients during investigation and therapy. Fear is all too often irrelevant to doctors investigating or operating; yet fear relates to the meaning patients involve in having a disease, one that is open to investigation and interpretation. By confronting the photographs with a sculpture of used masks in the gallery space, the artist addresses the defined and undefined fears and leads the viewer from realism to phantasm, in a fantasy-like approach where the physicalities of sickness mingle with beauty poses and classical portraiture elements.

Maija Tammi, Untitled #2 from the series Leftover, 2014. Dimensions: 60 x 65 cm. Pigment print. Image © Maija Tammi. Used here by kind permission from the artist. All rights reserved.
Maija Tammi, Untitled #2 from the series Leftover, 2014. Dimensions: 60 x 65 cm. Pigment print. Image © Maija Tammi. Used here by kind permission from the artist. All rights reserved.
The photographs also reflect on the possibilities to understand the masks as objects manipulated in the medical practice. These objects multiply the immediate reality, they are no longer passive objects but are enacted by the practices in which they are manipulated. Different practices, different uses and different contexts will multiply the reality, since they engage the patient, the doctor, the disease/investigation (which is a procedural practice), the technology involved, the body, and one’s persona into plural relations. Radiotherapy masks are in fact the objectual expression of how knowledge is no longer understood as a matter of reference in the medical practice, but as a matter of manipulation, with numerous implications upon body politics. The handling of these masks therefore reference knowledge practices, the information of bodies, health care system organization, the shape of technologies and their political charge on the perception and self-perception of bodies and identities.

If disease is the object of biomedicine, the patient’s illness is about one’s interpretation of her or his disease, the feelings that accompany it, since what is said about the disease does not take place inside the body. Bodies speak when they are made heavy with meaning: by photographing faces wearing radiotherapy masks, Maija Tammi already references biopolitics and their power over the physical reality of bodies and identities, yet does so by also revealing how humanness exceeds psychosocial matters in all that involves feelings, interpretations, and body matters. The masks emphasize a composite identity that is the enactment of multi-layered manipulations that do and undo as a form of counteracting. The mask as an object of interaction is both reflective and deflective of one’s feelings and attitudes, constantly altering one’s state in respect to disease. It is the objectual expression of the means used to gather knowledge during diagnosis – talking, touching, cutting, seeing and interpreting – as material effects are actively sought to counter turbid, unsettling affects.
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source: maijatammi
Maija Tammi (b. 1985) is a Finnish artist, whose photographs and sculptures converse on topics around disgust and fascination, science and aesthetics. She is drawn to photography’s representational abilities and its double role as science and art. Her work has been exhibited in Europe, North America and Asia, and the book Leftover/Removals was published by Kehrer Verlag in 2014.

Tammi’s background is in photojournalism. She has a Masters in visual journalism and she worked as a photojournalist for six years before her artistic career. She is currently working on her studio art-based doctoral thesis at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki, Finland.

Tammi is represented by East Wing.
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source: wired

AS A CHILD, Maija Tammi wanted to be a pathologist. She doesn’t remember that childhood dream, but her family does. And though she grew up to be an artist, that early fascination with the body informed and shaped her latest project.

The Finnish photographer recently released Leftover/Removals, a collection of stark and clinical images that reflect on the body, disease, and the medical procedures we use to protect the former from the latter. They are difficult to look at, but remarkable to behold—another theme within her work.

“Why is it that the things which disgust us also almost invariably fascinate us at the same time?” she asks.

The book features two distinct but complimentary arcs. Leftover is a series of brightly-lit portraits of a model wearing discarded radiotherapy masks. Removals is a series of dramatic and dark still life images of tissue in stainless steel trays. The series are raw and confrontational, and meant to challenge us.

“We seem to be scared of things that remind us of the fact that we are going to rot and die,” says Tammi. “Even when we know about all the disgusting things inside the human body—blood, snot, intestines—we can still find the sack [the body] that contains it all, beautiful!”

These discomfiting photographs were made as part of Tammi’s doctoral studies at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki. She started with Removals, working in two hospitals in the city of Tampere to create images meant to “shake up the common ways of seeing everyday things.” Transcribed snippets of conversation between surgeons attempting to deduce what’s shown in each photo take some of the edge off the graphic images.

The images of Leftover were made using radiotherapy masks that a Helsinki hospital gave to her instead of discarding. Here, Tammi draws an interesting parallel between studio portraiture and medical imaging. Photographers set depth of field and light-settings much like a radiographer sets the strength of the x-ray and position of the patient.

As creepy as the portraits may be, they leave you intrigued by the person behind the mask, and what might have happened to her. They are disturbing, but at least there is an identifiable person in the frame. The still lifes of Removals, on the other hand, make it difficult to reconcile that the lump of tissue or limb or gallstone is human.

“To look at these types of images we might at least understand why certain visual depictions of the body disturb us,” says Tammi, who draws inspiration from the likes of Diane Arbus, Hannah Wilke and Raphaël Dallaporta.

Repulsion, fear, and confusion are understandable, even welcome, reactions to Tammi’s work. She isn’t interested in creating images you can ignore.