MoMA PS1 presents first US museum solo show of Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja

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MoMA PS1 presents first US museum solo show of Finnish artist Iiu Susiraja
Installation view of Iiu Susiraja: A style called a dead fish on view at MoMA PS1 from April 20 to September 4, 2023. Image courtesy MoMA PS1. Photo: Steven Paneccasio.

LONG ISLAND CITY, NY.- MoMA PS1 is presenting the first solo museum exhibition in the United States of photographer Iiu Susiraja (b. 1975, Turku, Finland). On view from April 20 through September 4, 2023, the presentation brings together over fifty photographs and videos that highlight the trajectory of Susiraja’s practice since 2008, when she was beginning to photograph and film herself in interior spaces. Most often, her images are shot in her apartment in Turku, Finland—the city where she has lived nearly her entire life. Susiraja selects and stages objects to accompany her that are both familiar and farcical, including tablecloths, umbrellas, hotdogs, bananas, treadmills, rubber duckies, and dead fish, amongst many others. Iiu Susiraja: A style called a dead fish highlights Susiraja’s unique manner of navigating between the slapstick and the deadpan, as she explores self-representation amidst physical and psychological interiors.

Susiraja was trained as a textile designer before turning to photography, and her early works brim with fabric. One of her first self-portraits, Large-scale cleaning (2008), conceals her body behind an elongated rug, as a sliver of her body peeks out from the carpet’s shadow. More recent works such as Happy Valentines Day (Big Heart) (2022), presented for the first time in the exhibition, expose the artist’s bare flesh in intimate yet decidedly unsentimental situations. Susiraja approaches the small domestic stage of her apartment with boundless creativity: in Functional communication (2012), Susiraja hosts a telepathic encounter with a banana on her bed, which she revisits as a site of playful repose in Pinwheel (2019). Grounded in private performances for the camera, Susiraja’s works are carefully constructed tableaux—both spare and abundant with understated theater—that double as snapshots of her everyday reality. The resulting photographs and videos test the limits of propriety, indulgence, and “good” behavior.

Blurring the lines between portrait and still life, Susiraja considers how setting intersects with—and informs—the self. The household objects, furnishings, and food she casts in her work become unlikely conspirators and protagonists. “I don’t actually do much consciously at all,” she has stated, “other than list objects on paper and go and fetch them.” Her droll approach to imagemaking explores how the items we don, remove, manipulate, ingest, conceal, and rebuke inflect the stories we tell about ourselves.

Iiu Susiraja lives and works in Turku, Finland. She earned an MFA from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2018 and has held solo exhibitions at venues including: Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma/Finnish National Gallery, Helsinki, Finland; SKMU Sørlandets Kunstmuseum, Kristiansand, Norway; Makasiini Contemporary, Turku, Finland; Nino Mier Gallery, Los Angeles; Ramiken, New York; and Francois Ghebaly Gallery, Los Angeles. Her work is held in numerous public and private collections, including the University of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma/Finnish National Gallery, Rubell Family Collection, Gothenburg Museum of Art, and the Finnish Museum of Photography.

Iiu Susiraja: A style called a dead fish is organized by Jody Graf, Assistant Curator, MoMA PS1.

The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated monograph featuring original poetry by Susiraja and over fifty plates, with an extended curatorial essay.

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