Leading to Darkness

Aesthetica Magazine

Born in Helsinki, Helander is Sámi — part of the indigenous peoples in Northern Europe. This sense of identity ripples through the images, which project a sense of tension between urban living and alternative forms of community. In the transnational North, portals offer a view into parallel universes. One memorable portrait shows the artist, nude and feathered, standing in a frosted copse, where white tree branches fracture like lightening into the sky. She faces the camera and, with blurred hands, seems to be in motion — a woman slowly becoming animal at the world’s end. 

The image recalls a photonegative from Aphichatphong Wirasetthakun’s Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (2010), crossed with Cindy Sherman’s estranging style. It forms one half of a diptych, displayed alongside an industrial landscape in Bjørnevatn, Norway. Here, an iron mine’s terraced paths lead down into darkness. The message is one of ecological horror. The earth — opened, exploited — has released other beasts, slouching towards nowhere in particular, mournful and mysterious.