The Female Gaze: Helen Korpak

AALTO and multidisciplinary art collective The Community both share a Finnish heritage, and a desire to merge the Finnish and Parisian viewpoints. "The Female Gaze" is a project curated for AALTO by The Community with the aim to explore the contemporary photography scene in their common homeland: Finland.

The ongoing project highlights the work of young female talents who interpret Finnishness from their own perspective. The photographers are encouraged to shoot in Finland, and preferably portray Finnish people, but apart from these guidelines, they are given an artistic carte blanche. The second part of the project is the Constellations project by Helen Korpak. 

Helsinki-based photographer, Helen Korpak was invited to the "TheFemale Gaze" project in the interest of the intimate feel in her work, and her ability to show the subjects “as they are” documented in their natural habitats. She is known for her sensitive and delicate but nicely mundane images of her family and friends, as well as for her still life images. Helen has studied at the photography department of Aalto University in Helsinki and moves effortlessly between art and fashion. She has produced several self-published books and zines that represent her poetic photography over the past decade.

For The Community and AALTO, Helen created the “Constellations” series of portraits of her recent girl crushes. About the project she says: “Every photographer has their own favorite subject, mine is people. I've always been in love with looking at portraits, and ever since I started photographing in my late teens, humans have been my number one source of inspiration. I started out photographing friends and family, then occasionally models, and finally unknown people.

I knew right away that I wanted to photograph young women for this project, but rather than go out street casting, I did my scouting online. I found Heli, Lotta, Milka and Xafsa on Instagram and knew instinctively that I wanted to take their portraits. They all embody that elusive, mythical charisma and beauty that is exclusively reserved for the young. Their selfies exuded personality and attitude, but occasionally also vulnerability and melancholy.

We met for the first time when I took their portraits. It was their selfies that caught my eye when I was browsing social media, and the pictures were partly inspired by those mobile phone shots of theirs. The pictures were taken in Helsinki in November and December 2017 during the few hours of daylight available, and became parts of collages that incorporate shots from my diary.”