These images are portraits of the perpetrators of the ten most fatal school shootings since the Columbine massacre in 1999. Five of the shooters are from the USA, two from Germany, two from Finland and one from Brazil.
School shootings are rare, but repetitive phenomenon, with the perpetrators sharing significant similarities. Research shows that school shootings are acts motivated by individual troubles rather than political motives. and they are never totally impulsive acts. Rather, the shooter, a young man who is a student or former student of a particular school, will slowly become excluded from his peers. Often he faces bullying at school. His family circumstances may be normal but the young man himself feels alienated. There is usually some sort of serious drawback in his personal life and he feels rejected. His final attempt to redeem his position as an alpha male is to commit an act so horrific in scale that it will give him eternal fame.
The treatment of school shootings in the media has both positive and negative effects. On the one hand, the dramatic stories can construct a myth around the shooter making him the idol he wished to be, encouraging copycat behaviour and celebration of violence. On the other hand, media presentations of violence people can confront the horrible act from a safe distance.
As Susan Sontag reminds us, photographs of agony not only remind the viewers of the explicit issues presented in the photographs, but also of the existence of a culture of violence in general. Connected to ethical considerations, images of violence can invite viewers "to pay attention, to reflect, to learn and to examine" not only the images and their aesthetics, but also the culture of violence they depict and of which the viewer is unavoidably a part.
Portraits of American school shooters are constructed from photographed clippings from American newspapers and Internet news. Similarly, the portraits of Finnish school shooters are constructed from Finnish media, the German portraits from German media and the Brazilian portrait from Brazilian media. All of the appropriated articles are gun and shooting related, and each portrait contains over a thousand different news headlines. Thus this series is inherently multilingual and multicultural despite the singularity of each image and event, alluding to the social connectedness that these young men have through the Internet. Through social media and other web based practices these shooters constitute a kind of imagined community and common culture that this series hopes to reveal and understand.
Within my Battered series I have focused my camera to the people who are victims of interpersonal direct violence that takes place in public spaces. In these photographs I have been mainly concentrating in the physical marks that an assault leaves to the body. I have also photographed fights as they appear and the places where fights have taken place.
Batteries and street fights are everynight activities during the weekends in Finland. People have a strong tendency of getting rather intoxicated during the partying and once drunk, people are released from their inhibitions. Aggression turns into physical acts, to direct violence.
There is a social awareness on this topic in Finland, the issue is recognized and it is considered to be a severe social problem. But the discussion has mainly literal dimensions, it appears in news headlines and it is discussed in seminars. There are no images from these happenings. By photographing assaults and batteries, I wish show the real faces of street violence in Finland. In contrast to the stereotypic portrayals of male heroicism and the worn-out attempts at shocking people I am interested in dealing with the utmost banality inherent in violence. What I find more unsettling than any single representation of physical injuries is the everyday nature of street violence and the laissez-faire attitude towards it in the Finnish society.
I worked with the topic for two years, spending many of my weekend nights in the center of the town called Turku (in South West Finland) looking for fights and battered people. Also I have worked in cooperation with the Turku Police Department, travelling with them in their cars.
Battered is based on traditional social documentary practice, and visually images are related to crime scene photography and police pictures. Historical references (Jacob Riis, WeeGee, Enrique Metinides among others) have played on important part in creation of this project.
Altogether Battered consists of 33 pictures. As finished exhibition pictures they are handprinted chromogenic colour prints mounted on Dibond and laminated and framed.
Guns at home
There are guns in many Albanian homes, both guns ment for hunting purposes and illegal guns. Illegal guns are quite often Kalashnikovs. Reason for people having these illegal guns is in the revolt in 1997, when the people went to barricades and finally rushed into the weapon storages managed by the government robbing them empty. When situation calmed down the government asked the people to return the stolen weaponry. Some of the guns got returned, many of them stayed as a hidden property of the people and fair number of them were smuggled outside Albania. People having these weapons at home is unspoken common knowledge.
Originating to these happenings and being based in the earlier history it may be stated that Albanians have close relationship with guns. There are a lot of them out in the public as well.
Normal way of storing the weapons is having the actual gun in one place, the bullets in an another place and the magazin in the third place. This proves the guns are not ment for sudden use but, rather, for more serious cases.
Finland (population around 5.4 million) has a long tradition of hunting and weapons-bearing, and today Finland has one of the world's highest gun ownership rates (per capita) – Finland ranks among top ten in the world – with about 1.7 million firearms in private hands, including perhaps some 20 000 to 100 000 illegal weapons. There are more than 2000 shooting ranges around the country.
Shooting range focuses on places that are on the one hand disconnected and isolated locations in a peripheral nature environment, and on the other hand legitimate grounds for firing guns. Shooting ranges are kind of universes of their own, and their architecture and social structure are uniquely designed.
All the works are archival pigment print on Dibond, framed with white wooden frames.
Harri Pälviranta is a Finnish photographic artist and a researcher. His major artistic interests are in societal topics, for example in issues relating to violence and masculinity. Theoretically much of his work falls into practise that can be categorized as documentary. However, in Pälviranta’s use documentary does not only refer to classical documentaries that are based on 'authenticity' or 'indexicality', his work rather activates critical practises within documentary discourse.
Harri Pälviranta (born 1971, Finland) is a photographic artist, filmmaker and researcher. He holds a Doctor of Art degree in photography from the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in Helsinki (2012), MA in Media Studies from the University of Turku (2005) and BA in photography from the Turku Arts Academy (2000). His works has been exhibited in numerous solo and group exhibitions internationally, the latest group shows including MAC International at Metropolitan Arts Center in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and POTRETTI at Fotografie Forum Frankfurt, Germany and solo shows at Gallery H2O in Barcelona, Spain, CFF gallery in Stockholm, Sweden and Tampere Art Museum in Finland. To name some achievements from the past, in 2007 he won the PhotoEspana Descubrimientos award, and the years 2014 to 2015 he is working with artist grant from the Arts Promotion Centre Finland.
At the core of Pälviranta’s artistic curiosity are issues relating to violence and masculinity, and often in his works he bridges these two themes. What is noteworthy is that he understands both of these concepts through their wide definitions. Like Slavoj Žižek, Pälviranta sees violence as a diverse practice: it can be seen as subjective and objective, and it can take both symbolic and systemic forms. Connected to this, his comprehension of masculinity is also layered: masculinity can be seen as culturally encoded and performed and renewed in commonplace practices. These points of departure mean that violence and masculinity alike can be observed and studied as both concrete and structural phenomena, and from analytical and/or subjective perspectives.
Theoretically much of his work falls into practice that can be categorized as documentary. However, in Pälviranta’s use documentary does not really refer to classical documentaries, his work rather activates critical practices within documentary discourse. Along this line of thought, as a form of expression documentary relates to concepts such as constructed verisimilitude and dramatized, narrated real. He also tends to use documentary as a generic definition, seeing it as a practice that guides reception and meaning making.
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