"You wake up. Rules of vanity are immediately conquering your mind. Your inside is already burning with a small flame in the breakfast table. You go on but imperfection is the only thing you see in the mirror. Nightmares of the night haunt you during the day and you just want to take a nap and see dreams of butterflies. But whats stopping you? Is it time to break the chains of beauty?"
Does the name Petri Damstén ring a bell? I’m sure it did if you are a consequent reader of Stitch! There’s no doubt about it that his work “Dystopia” has caught your eye and now he’s back with another brilliant series “Imperfect” (symbolizing his interpretation of a poem about vanity) which got an honorable mention at the Tokyo International Foto Awards 2017.
His character and style definitely intrigue the world of photography with his dark and mysterious displays that are devised in detail with thoughtful settings. His art makes you feel something, it makes you think something but most of all … it makes you crave for more!
Where did you get the inspiration and what did you want to represent with this series?
There was an artist collaboration called Runokuvaa 2 (transl. poet pictures 2) that I was selected to be part of. Six poets made a poem and six photographers did a photo series based on the poems. Afterward, there was an exhibition in Helsinki, Finland. This is my (loose) interpretation of the poem. That idea that human sees him/herself imperfect, no matter what started to be the leading line for me when I planned the image ideas.
Tell us an attribute that a good photographer must have and why?
I would say it’s passion for the photography (or any craft you want to be good at). If you have a passion for the things you do it drives you to be better and learn new things.
Your pictures have like this dark vibe. Is it something that impersonates your character or is it just something you feel comfortable with?
Part of it might be something to do with my fight with depression that has been a big part of my life but there is definitely more in my fond of darker tones. I think I have always liked dark art, movies etc. It comes quite naturally to me and most of the time I don’t specifically plan my images to be on the dark side but somehow, they mostly end there.
We are living in a society where perfect is not enough. How do you think this vision in life has evolved? Do you think social media has something to do with it (we get more confronted with the exposure of other people’s lives, we only see the good things)?
Yes, I think social media emphasis that false thought that everybody has a perfect life and that your look is the most important thing in your life. Especially people with low self-esteem will struggle in this kind of environment. As an adult in almost my 50s, I don’t think I take these things so seriously anymore. But I can still remember how shy person and introvert even in Finnish standards I was (and still am) in my teen years and I would say that growing up would not be easier in today’s world.
With who would you like to collaborate some day and why?
There are so many great photographers out there from whom you could learn a thing or two but I would say that it would be a joy to make another project with JP Palmunen. He has the same kind of weird sense of humor and like for darker tones than me. He has taught me so much and I really liked working with him in Dystopia project and several other pictures. He moved to the capital area of Finland recently so collaboration opportunities are now much more scarce.
Do you have any upcoming projects/exhibitions we should know about?
”How I met death and became friends with him” is an ongoing project in which I do photos as ideas come. That project will probably continue for a long time. I have several ideas for shorter projects but not sure which of those will come in reality.
Tell us a funny story about yourself?
When photographing one of the images in Dystopia series Mr. Palmunen was wearing red rubber gloves and I was leaning to the table my butt naked and hands cuffed. One of the thoughts in my mind was that I guess I’m starting to get this photography thing pretty seriously ...