Elina Brotherus

1972, Finnish, Born in Helsinki, Finland
Nominee - Prix Elysée 2017

Finnish photography and video artist Elina Brotherus was born in 1972 in Helsinki. She received her master’s degree in Photography from the University of Art and Design Helsinki (2000) and MSc in Chemistry from the University of Helsinki (1997). She started exhibiting internationally in 1998 while still in art school.

Her early work dealt with personal yet universal experiences, the presence and absence of love. In her series The New Painting (2000-2005), Brotherus probed the relation of photography to art history and found inspiration in the iconography of classical painting. In Model Studies (2002-2008) and Artist and her model (2005-2011), she continued to explore the human figure within a landscape, and the gaze of an artist on his/her model. In her recent work Annonciation (2009-2013), 12 ans après (2011-2013) and Carpe Fucking Diem (2012-2015) she returned to the autobiographical approach, although more distanced than in her youth.

Elina Brotherus’ work has been given prominence in numerous art and photography publications and reviews. Her works are also featured in a number of prestigious public collections including the Centre national des arts plastiques, France, Fondation Kadist, Paris, Hasselblad Center, Gothenburg, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki, and Moderna Museet, Stockholm. She has received several awards among which are the Prix Niépce 2005 in France and the Finnish State Prize for Photography in 2008.


Meaningless Work

Elina Brotherus will undertake an ambitious project of image fabrication for the Prix Elysée. On the basis of her own interpretations, she will create a series inspired by the preparatory scores and scripts of Fluxus artists made in view of their actions in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

“A score is like an assignment. That’s precisely what I need right now. Essentially, all an artist needs is a time and a place and something to do. That something, by definition, is art.

I have been lucky to work with the curator René Block on several occasions for more than ten years now. René is the legendary person who first showed Fluxus artists and in whose gallery Joseph Beuys did his most famous performances. René’s archive was like a revelation to me. He told me that most of the people who did actions and events in the 1960’s and 1970’s wrote a score for their performances. The question of legitimacy of a remake or appropriation vanishes with the notion of the score. René explained to me, there’s no difference if I perform a piece of Chopin from the score written by Chopin, or a piece of Shiomi Mieko from the score written by her.

Fluxus artists organized their events and happenings in front of a public. What is left today are the scores and some lo-fi documentation material. My approach differs from that in my not being a performing artist. I am an image-maker: my art works are the resulting photographs, which are executed meticulously.”