When […] the world of clear and articulate objects is abolished, our perceptual being […] evolves a spatiality without things. This is what happens in the night. Night is not an object before me; it enwraps me and infiltrates through all my senses […]. Night has no outlines; […] it is pure depth without foreground or background, without surfaces and without any distance separating it from me.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty: Phenomenology of Perception
In his new austerely black and white work, Aapo Huhta fills his photographs with a darkness so impenetrable that it dissolves the horizon. This nocturnal void is inhabited by figures that seem to be shrouded in milky mist or to exist behind a veil of cosmic radiation. They are at once painfully corporeal and infinitely distant, as if visual echoes from another dimension. These bodies give us no information on the space they inhabit, because their existence does not adhere to familiar laws of physics.
Three-dimensionality is in peril when Huhta dismantles the figurative tradition of the photograph. Through the use of analog processes and methods, his works warp space and time in a way that borders on the grotesque. The artist distorts the contours of the human body with a great sense of urgency: these beings are above all to be described as mortals.
The series Gravity sees Huhta progress along a path of existential discovery. His artistic work has always been concerned with humankind’s relation to surrounding space, and has over the years moved away from its documentary origins to an increasing degree of abstraction. The human figure is a constant subject in Huhta’s photography, however, even if in a highly anonymized form. When reduced to a mere shadowy silhouette, as was the case in the artist’s previous series Omatandangole, the individual body becomes a symbol for humanity and can take on a multitude of meanings. In Gravity Huhta abruptly inverts his former colour scheme, turning away from the blistering sunshine that permeates his earlier work. As day turns to night, the presence of death makes itself known.
Gravity seems to take place just outside of the event horizon of a fantastic black hole, in a limbo where both matter and concepts are altered to the point of collapse. The disintegration of the body is exposed in all its terrifying beauty as Huhta rejects the norms of depicting the human individual. But embedded within the endless night of Gravity’s outer space are clues of what lies beyond the final loss of power: the end is an enduring arid landscape. This, then, is what peace looks like.
– Helen Korpak
All images ©Aapo Huhta