I approach photography as a single continuous project. Photography helps me reflect on my personal experiences of outsiderhood and psychological detachment from the world. I make pictures that I want to stare at, feel and become lost in.
The selection includes images from a couple of years. Each photograph is an authentic observation from my life shot with little or no interaction with the subjects. I find this prerequisite ontologically essential. It verifies the status of my gaze as an outsider and the origin of the picture in the act of looking; not imagination or representation.
My photographs are stand-alone pictures. They invoke poetry more than prose. Their subject matter varies. Each one is detached from context, place, time and narrative. The pictures share a visual language and mood. However, what binds them together is the repetitive question on absence, presence and outsiderhood in relation to the subject and the gaze.
My visual style is reminiscent of the 70s, minimal Japanese photography and even pictorialism. I use stylistic devices for both expression and meaning. I am curious about how visual absence through partial crop or obscurity can enhance the sense of presence in the spectator’s mind. Sometimes the present is not there at all. Style can also help make the spectator aware of the picture itself.
The darkroom process is inseparable from my work; I would not make pictures any other way. The images feel real and connected to the world. I think of them as physical objects and try to present them accordingly. The prints are relatively small in size, cut edgeless and float framed as if suspended in space.
About Mikael Siirilä
Born in Helsinki in 1978, Mikael Siirilä learned the darkroom process early on in his childhood in an art-loving family. Since then photography has remained a persistent sideline in his life until eventually taking a more significant role in the 2010s.
At the turn of the millennium, Mikael Siirilä was among the early adopters of digital photography. His enthusiastic foray into pixels and post-processing almost suffocated the passion entirely. That changed in 2010 when he began a personal project documenting the time of pregnancy leading to the birth of his daughter. Film seemed like the more intimate medium for capturing a life-changing time, and the final work felt meaningful and permanent.
Over the next few years, Mikael assembled a darkroom first at home and then ambitiously in a dedicated basement space. He focused on cultivating his expression while developing practical skills in printmaking. Eventually, Mikael joined the international AllFormat Collective and found friendship and support from like-minded artists.
Mikael approaches photography as a slow-paced and reflective practice. He collects fragmented observations from his life and works in the darkroom to give them meaning. His approach to photography is reductionist and minimalist. Subjects appear lost in thought and disconnected from time, place and context. His work revolves around themes such as outsiderhood, absence and presence.
Mikael Siirilä works exclusively with the silver gelatin process. The darkroom allows him to approach the photograph as a handmade physical object. His visual style can be recognised by the pronounced film grain, dominating black elements and image edges as a source of mystery and meaning. Also notably he prefers to create photographs in relatively small size. For him, a photograph’s most native form is the physical ‘1-hour photos’ of his youth. Smaller size invites the viewer near. Studying a picture becomes intimate, like reading a piece of poetry.
Mikael belongs to the wave of artists that have embraced social media as a serious and legitimate platform for presenting work. His social following is global, and interest in his photography has increased in the past years. He does not work on commissions to fully focus photography as a self-expressive art form. [Official Website]