Shortlisted for the MACK First Book Award 2021, Eeva Hannula’s (b. 1983, Finland) self-published book ‘Amorphous Writings’ is an experimental hybrid of photography and poetry, in which images are used by means of writing with them to discover her own artistic language. The minimalist all white hardcover reveals little of what is inside, apart from the title, which is written twice, but mirrored, hinting at that the 328-paged book can be opened from both directions. The inner space of the double sided structure combines photographs, poems, collages, print scans and drawings, inspired by the uncoated white page, or so to speak blank canvas, the artworks once started out as.
Due to its backwards-forwards layout, the book does not specifically guide which cover should be opened first, giving the reader freedom of interaction with the work. The narrative has no beginning or ending. Regardless, the search for marks and traces proofs more fruitful and significant; they are the fragments that create metaphors, expressions, associations and gestures of improvisation.
Throughout the book, Hannula highlights the idea of note-taking and drawing by using various related materials, including different types of papers, textures, typography and handwriting. Each element is rich on a pictorial and graphic level: some are torn, ripped, shred, crumpled and cut up.
The poetry and visual art is separated in sections, but occasionally meet and collide, overlaying each other and creating a three-dimensional viewing experience. We see a repetition of patterns. Sometimes letters and extracts of text are presented as prose; as airy, breathable sentences that are spaced out across the spreads. Sometimes they form compressed verses or vanish from sight into the centre folds and margins. Sometimes they spiral, overflow, or are arranged in mathematic compositions. Images and texts are assembled and scattered, creating tension within the empty white space they inhabit, and affecting the rhythm of their recital.
Besides painting over black and white photographs with bright shades of red and blue, Hannula also applies the process of frottage: a technique where one takes a rubbing from an uneven surface using a pencil. One can see a charcoal shadow of a coin which shows a sketch of a scale on it. Perhaps a metaphor of the balance between image and text; the two sides of a coin, like the two sides of this book? Which side outweighs the other? Is one of more importance than the other?
By producing signs, breaking and rewriting them, Hannula pursues to discover unknown formations and unspoken areas within her work. She mixes conceptual with figurative, welcomes chance and makes room for destruction, to challenge the boundaries of photography and test the waters of asemic writing. Abstracted lines and symbols gain definition and purpose through aesthetic intuition. They scratch the surface of content, appearing as words that are left to interpretation, like how one would deduce significance from photographs.
Hannula outlines in her project statement:
“Amorphous Writings has no single permanent and coherent meaning or theme, but the tissue of the works is made up of fragments that are visible through each other. The poems in the book deal with the relationship between structure and non-structure, shape and shapelessness…”
Escaping a strict form or genre, the book evokes a sense of conflict: it suggests incompleteness and uncertainty, yet simultaneously presents elusive order and intricate layers for the eyes to see, unfold and indulge in. ‘Amorphous Writings’ pokes at the readers’ subconscious consumption of image and text, and looks closely at the intersections of the two medium; how they are in constant motion, conversion and conversation, in our current visual culture.
is a Finish artist based in Helsinki. In 2012 she gained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Turku Arts Academy and in 2017 a Master’s degree in Photography from Aalto University. In 2020 she finished her studies in Creative Writing at Critical Academy Helsinki. Hannula has exhibited at Sous Les Etoiles Gallery in New York (2015), Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin (2016) and several times at Paris Photo. In 2013 she was nominated as Foam Talent and in 2021 her book ‘Amorphous Writings’ was shortlisted for the MACK First Book Award.
‘Amorphous Writings’ has been supported by the Arts Promotion Centre Finland / National Council for the Visual Arts. You can purchase a copy here.