New York Photo Review
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Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Soho Photo Gallery
Central Booking Magazine

Birds, Bees and Bats
Sanna Kannisto
Fieldwork, Photographs
Reviewer #1
Act of Flying (9) by Sanna Kannisto. Source: aperture.org
Sanna Kannisto, "Act of Flying (9)" 2006

In the large show of work of Finnish photographer Sanna Kannisto at the Aperture Gallery we can see the fault line between two of photography’s major roles, representation and expression. Trained as a photographer in the modern ‘fine arts’ style, she has been spending time with scientific field researchers in tropical regions of the Americas. In collaboration with them she has produced two types of images, some technological tours de force of things like hummingbirds and bats feeding in flight, and others of the working conditions and equipment used by the researchers. Only a few of the pictures actually show the researchers themselves.

The straightforward images of birds, bats and bees are by far the most intriguing images in the show. The hummingbirds are just beautiful. In the bright strobe-lit images, taken against a plain white background, their colorful wings can be clearly discerned, and they are just as impressive as they are in real life. I almost had to pinch myself after staring for minutes at a macro-level, high-definition video of three types of bees eating sugar.

Private Collection by Sanna Kannisto. Source: aperture.org
Sanna Kannisto, "Private Collection" 2003

The views of the research sites and equipment are less successful. Deliberately given uninformative titles, they are seemingly meant to be somewhat surreal. But, really, no one is surprised to see electrical cables running through the underbrush at a research station. Kannisto is not without a sense of humor. One picture in particular shows a work room entirely covered with large leaves strewn about everywhere, the result of either a large collection day, the graduate student finally flipping out, or the photographer herself deliberately ‘installing’ a large, art-school-like statement. The viewer is left to decide – very post-modern, and unsatisfying at the same time. These are interesting photos, and it is only the reticence of the photographer to give us an old-fashioned caption that’s irksome.

Ever since Anna Atkins made the first photography book ‘Photographs of British Algae’ in 1843, scientific representations of nature have been a prime interest of photographers worldwide. Sanna Kannisto continues the tradition of combining both science and aesthetics in photographing nature, and brings a refreshing, modern sensibility to the task.

Sanna Kannisto
Fieldwork, Photographs


Aperture
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Thursday, April 21 to
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Hours: Tues-Sat, 10 to 6
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The Genetic Wars by Barbara Confino
Making Caribbean Dance by Susanna Sloat
Central Booking Magazine
Soho Photo Gallery