Girls’ friendships with horses are sometimes interpreted as a juvenile phase girls go through before becoming interested in boys or discovering their sexuality. But there is so much more to it.
– Wilma Hurskainen
Wilma Hurskainen was born in Vantaa, Finland, in 1979. She lives and works in Helsinki. Hurskainen graduated from Aalto University School of Arts, Hurskainen studied photography at Lahti University of Applied Sciences Institute of Design and Design and Architecture in 2007 from Aalto University. She has held several solo exhibitions in Europe and participated in a number of collective exhibitions in Europe and Asia. Selected exhibitions include a solo show at the Northern Photographic Centre, Oulu, Finland (2013), and at Matadero Madrid, Contemporary Art Center (2014), as well as group shows such as Ages, Landesgalerie Linz (2013), and Touching Dreams, the National Museum of Photography, Copenhagen (2011). Hurskainen has published three photographic books: Kasvu/Growth, 2008, Heiress, 2012, and The Woman Who Married a Horse. Her works are featured in several public and private collections.
Our past belongs to us but at the same time it slips away – it is out of reach, gone, but at once part of our present and of our future. Pictures, especially photographs, are a strong link to our past in that they help to recall our memories. Already with her first series Growth, Wilma Hurskainen started to investigate childhood and childhood memories through the use of photography. Using pictures of her family album, she recreated certain situations from old photographs and re-photographed them. The outcome was a visual dialogue between the past and the present.
With her work The Woman Who Married a Horse, Wilma Hurskainen’s reference to childhood is still relevant but less obvious. The series features young women in contrived cowgirl scenery. Horses, stables, and prairies, all photographed in saturated colors and soft light, comprise the settings for these highly romantic pictures. The story behind the photographs refers to the artist’s memories of novels for girls and of her girlish fantasies. In her work, Wilma Hurskainen creates fictions in which she plays out these fantasies. By combining past and present she creates a timeless space in which she and her sisters can reenact their childhood memories and finally live out their long-lost dreams.
In The Woman Who Married a Horse, Wilma Hurskainen draws the central themes of her art from questions related to memory, personal history, and the coexistence of humans and other species. It is a story about our longing to control something stronger than ourselves, told in the form of photographs and video. In art, the horse is a symbol that does not seem to wear out with time; it rather seems to defy definitions. In her images, Hurskainen borrows horse stories from girls’ books and folklore. The entity tells about the ability of the photograph to operate with shards of our visual world and still create something surpassing the commonplace, something dream-like. The young women so prevalent in Wilma Hurskainen´s photographic art are now sharing their twisted realities with horses. Like poems, Wilma Hurskainen’s photographs perceptively link poetry with humor and open up spaces of associations to own experiences of the spectator.