Juha Arvid Helminen
FINLAND
Juha Arvid Helminen wasJuha Arvid Helminen was born in 1977 in Helsinki, Finland to a working class family and he still works and lives there. He graduated in 2010 from Lahti University of Applied Sciences as a photographer. Helminen’s work is about the misuse of power and herd mentality: how we look for protection in a group and how much we give away of our individuality in order to feel safe. His work has been described as human still lifes as his subjects are carefully dressed in all black outfits, masks and bandages so that no skin is shown. Helminen had his first solo exhibition in 2013 at the prestigious Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in Helsinki, Finland, and he just had his first artist residency in Colombia in 2018 and a combined solo exhibition in Museo de Arte Contemporaneous Bogota. He has also made art magazine projects including SOTA (“war”) a magazine criticizing xenophobia and war mongering, and RIVO (“nasty”) a magazine about sexuality, art, and porn. He is now working on sculptures and photographs for a speculative future magazine set to come out in early 2019. Helminen’s art work has been featured in magazines like EXIT, GUP, Photo RAW, Eyemazin and exhibited in museums, galleries and art festivals all over the world. born in 1977 in Helsinki, Finland to a working class family and he still works and lives there. He graduated in 2010 from Lahti University of Applied Sciences as a photographer. Helminen’s work is about the misuse of power and herd mentality: how we look for protection in a group and how much we give away of our individuality in order to feel safe. His work has been described as human still lifes as his subjects are carefully dressed in all black outfits, masks and bandages so that no skin is shown. Helminen had his first solo exhibition in 2013 at the prestigious Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in Helsinki, Finland, and he just had his first artist residency in Colombia in 2018 and a combined solo exhibition in Museo de Arte Contemporaneous Bogota. He has also made art magazine projects including SOTA (“war”) a magazine criticizing xenophobia and war mongering, and RIVO (“nasty”) a magazine about sexuality, art, and porn. He is now working on sculptures and photographs for a speculative future magazine set to come out in early 2019. Helminen’s art work has been featured in magazines like EXIT, GUP, Photo RAW, Eyemazin and exhibited in museums, galleries and art festivals all over the world.
The Invisible Empire
We want people to be free and independent but it’s hard to understand how. For many, freedom means to be just like others – especially during rough times. The definition of independence is delightfully difficult. Humans are social animals who learn by mimicking each other. My photo series consists of armies, royalties and both religious and mystic movements. These aren’t usually associated with independence but with the opposite: traditions, an individual as a part of continuity and a tightly formed group. The outfits in the photos are minimal and even fascist, fundamentalist and puritan. My art work covers many centuries, highlighting different groups and individuals in them. I’m fascinated by the ability to identify with and imagine personalities for characters whose characteristics are hidden. During the making of this series, I started to understand the desire to be a part of a group – even if that means giving away parts of ones persona. Authoritarian movements have often gained power by talking about both the national and personal independence. The pattern familiar with the 1930’s totalitarianisms seems to be slowly repeating itself. For many, individuality means the freedom of religion, sexual orientation and to choose who you vote for. Still, others’ lives are controlled by populist and xenophobic movements that are gaining popularity. In order to hold on to the rights we have gained and to guarantee them to those who still don’t have them, we have to continue the dialogue. My photo series is a part of this conversation.

The Addis Foto Fest (AFF) was established in 2010 by award-winning photographer and cultural entrepreneur, Aida Muluneh. The festival is organized by Desta for Africa Creative Consulting PLC. AFF is a biennial international photography festival held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. It has previously featured exhibitions, portfolio reviews, conferences, projections and film screenings in many different renowned venues. It is also the first and only international photography festival in East Africa.