The Borderline exhibition is based on the work with refugees that photographer Stefan Bremer began in his Exodus exhibition (2015). While photographing the asylum seekers, Bremer noticed that, for many people, their only link with the past was photos stored on their mobile phones of loved ones, important memories and their former homeland.
This is the background to Bremer’s The most important picture segment, where we see portraits of people and their most important pictures. Borderline’s second segment consists of horizons where the sea and sky meet. These meditative images tell of dreams, of how they come true or are shattered. The pictures allude to the fact that the sea has proved fatal for so many. The third segment comprises photographs of the Salpa Line – a series of bunkers along Finland’s eastern border during the Second World War – which evoke past wars and the events and human destinies involved in them. Built to secure the eastern frontier, this line of fortifications was never put to the test, but the Finland of that era nonetheless managed to absorb 400,000 refugees from Karelia. Indeed, Bremer asks whether today’s Finland could not show the same kind of hospitality towards the war refugees of our time?
The exhibition’s second artist, Ahmed Alalousi, began collaborating with Bremer for Borderline. Alalousi’s contribution consists of photographs taken of his former home town of Mosul in 2013-14, i.e. before Isis captured the city. Displayed in the same space is Stefan Bremer’s collage, which shows Mosul today, in the aftermath of bombings and other acts of war.
In addition to the photographs, the exhibition includes texts, such as Kimmo Oksanen’s poem Strangers in 48 languages and the author Monika Fagerholm’s letter to Prime Minister Juha Sipilä concerning Finland’s current policy on refugees.
Stefan Bremer (born 1953) is one of the best-known Finnish photographers, and a fascination with people has been a hallmark of his work from the start. He studied at the School of Art and Design in 1974-80 and was a professor in 1999-2004. He has had more than a hundred solo exhibitions since 1980. Bremer’s works are in museums and private collections in Finland and abroad.
Ahmed Hasan Nadhim Alalousi (b. 1992) is an Iraqi-born photographer who was given asylum in Finland in July 2016. He has participated in various exhibitions and projects in Finland and elsewhere.
The Borderline exhibition is produced by the Pro Artibus Foundation. It is shown at Porvoo Art Hall January 13 – February 19, 2017.