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Shared Life – Matti Saanio's Early Photographs
Ateneum Art Museum's series on photography begins with an exhibition of the early work of photographer Matti Saanio (1925–2006). The Shared Life exhibition features rare photo treasures discovered in archives and attics. These images tell of man's survival in the northern wilderness, with some of the prints being over 40 years old. The exhibition presents prime examples of Saanio's humanistic documentary. Exhibition curators are researcher Kati Lintonen and Elina Heikka, director of the Finnish Museum of Photography.
The exhibition features numerous original black-and-white prints, taking the viewer to the 1960s and 70s as well as offering a comprehensive overview of the 1960s–80s printing styles. Most of the works now discovered are from Saanio's early exhibitions, often hastily put together and in unconventional gallery spaces – where people gathered, on the walls of schools and community halls. The exhibition presents Saanio's monumental work with original photostats of over two metres in size, showing influence of his days as a fresco painter.
Saanio's work on the arctic world is manifest in more than 230,000 negatives, 11 books of photographs and illustrated books, and hundreds of exhibitions in Finland and elsewhere in Europe. Saanio has been awarded the Finnish State Prize of Photography three times as well as the Pro Finlandia medal, and in 2004 he was presented with an honorary degree by the University of Lapland. He was the first photographer to become artist professor in Finland, and he worked as associate professor of photography at the University of Art and Design Helsinki 1986–89 and editor-in-chief of the Valokuva magazine 1976–84.
The Shared Life exhibition has been made in cooperation with Matti Saanio's heirs, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and the Rovaniemi Art Museum.