Photographs from the Series Night Time Stories, 2008
lambda print on aluminium, Dimensions Variable
Lonely but not alone - Markus Henttonen's photography
looks for intimate stories in the city
In the autumn of this year Henttonen has continued with his main thematics - the city, its people and structures, however, more recently his work has started to take a shift towards more dramatised photography. Night-time Stories depicts the city in the night. The role of co-incidences and working methods that, at least to some extent, seem to rely on what comes across, has made space for composed and planned, even film-like settings. The situations are heavily designed and controlled. Natural light conditions have been replaced by spotlights.
With the composed, film set-like situations Henttonen aims to tell stories. The dramatic aspects of the setting and the strong presence of his figures leave room for the viewer's imagination to figure out what has happened before and after the moment the image has been taken. Swimming Pool shows a woman, smoking in the pool in the night and staring at a camera with a sensual look. In the Night time Stories Henttonen moves between reality and fiction. He finds his models from city, so they are "real" people in their own environment. But Henttonen photographs them in a specific location and works on their position and gestures, so the role of the photographer becomes dominant, like in On the Beach, where a young woman lies on the sand, surrounded by empty bottles and cups. The night has fallen and the party is over. In Garden Henttonen's camera looks from above to the garden, where a woman lies, this time on the grass, with little clothing. What on an earth has happened? These questions Henttonen leaves unanswered.
The atmosphere in Night time Stories is pretty melancholic. The city is not solely a place to hang around with friends and for having fun in but shows totally different sides as well. Big cities attract people from the country side and province to look for a better life. Do they find what they are looking for? Henttonen shows his citizens on their weak and intimate moments, suffering from feelings like being an outsider, feeling lonely and getting frustrated, like in Nightshift and Waitress. "It is easy to feel small in Rio. In a huge city like this everything is possible but you have to have the networks. Otherwise you can feel being left outside everything", Henttonen says. During September-October 2008 he has been working in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in a residency at Capacete.
Actually, in Henttonen's photography the city is one of the main characters. But still, the city could be anywhere as he doesn't state clearly the place where the photograph has been taken. In that sense his works also show that big cities can offer experiences that are more or less the same despite of the country or even the continent.
Kaisa Heinanen, the writer is an art historian and critic