Jouko Lehtola 1963-2010
Det var med nogen overraskelse – og også tristhed – at Deres Ærbødige Skribent, da han i går skulle tjekke op på den finske fotograf Jouko Lehtola, kunne konstatere, at han var afgået ved døden på ulykkesdatoen, den 11. september i år, kun 47 år gammel.
Lehtola var uddannet fra den meget anerkendte Helsinki School of Art , og har ved siden af sit mere kunstneriske virke arbejdet med både pressefotografi og kommercielt fotografi.
I knew that Jouko Lehtola was badly ill, even dying. I had his phone number; we were going to talk about his pictures – but I put off this call. How was I supposed to talk to a 47-year-old Finnish photographer about his pictures without reminding him of the proximity of his death? And my own fears.
I never had time to call; Jouko Lehtola died on Saturday, September 11.
In the week leading up to this, his voice could be found on my answering machine, saying that he had had a few very hard, painful days, but perhaps we could try the following day?…
In the first Finnish report of his death, it was noted that he was a known depicter of Finnish popular culture, not least rock festivals and their audience. This is a rather disturbing description. As if this was any old surface.
He probably saw himself as more of a depicter of Finland in general. In the space between urban Helsinki and the traditional Finnish countryside he found the people travelling between two different extremes.
In the past 10 to 15 years, Finland has seen a huge influx of population to the capital, and the Finnish countryside isn’t like its Swedish counterpart – it seems to be further away, more remote, more isolated from the rest of the world. In just a few years, Helsinki went from sleepy capital in the shadow of the Russian Bear to becoming a part of the thoroughly commercialised Western Europe.
Lehtola’s pictures don’t always describe beauty. He could get horribly close to his subjects, each portrait feeling like an unveiling. A kind of involuntary emotional striptease, which he never directly speculatedin but nonetheless certainly ended up brutal, hard, violent. It was sweaty and wounded, people in a state of exhaustion – first full of everything, then empty of nothing. And that’s when Lehtola was there.
He was perhaps most famous for this 2004 Finlandia pictures, where he has also approached the physical relationship of country and city. Idyllic nature, a beautiful location that we humans are good at despoiling, imprinting wrongly. It’s never far from becoming a crime scene.
There are probably analyses about Jouko Lehtola’s love for these people, these spaces, but I think that’s mostly baloney. Care? No. Consideration, maybe. And the acknowledgement: here it is, here they are, whether you like it or not. Like a postcard to the powers-that-be, and to the boors. You try to forget this view, polish this surface. But you can’t, here we are, can you see us?!
Med Jouko Lehtolas bortgang har vi mistet en betydelig fotograf, som med sit fotografiske virke var i stand til at formidle et markant og visionært portræt af sin tid, sit miljø og sit land. Det er ikke alle fotografer, der besidder de evner.