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Galleri Format

Claesgatan 14 , Malmö

Onsdag - torsdag 14-18, fredag 11-16, lördag - söndag 12-15

Be boring Be happy

Iiu Susiraja

25.09.2016 - 30.10.2016


Iiu Susiraja’s photography and self portraits is an honest and sometimes scorching commentary to stereotypical ideals of beauty, womanhood and gender roles. With a peculiar humor and sarcasm before patriarchal norms, Susiraja exposes both herself and the social rules of society. In her self portraits she in no way tries to beautify or to please. Instead she gives the finger to the convention of the perfect body and questions what is believed to be normal.

In the exhibition Be boring Be happy we’re met by a photograph of an overweight woman with a rolling pin between her thighs. She is standing barefoot in a traditional Nordic living room with a couch, carpet and framed paintings of flowers. Her gaze goes out of the picture and she does not seem to notice the absurdity in that the rolling pin, because of it’s placement, has turned into a phallic symbol. In another work she’s sitting in a couch with a ”Lucia candle” stuck with duct ape to her forehead and a big teddy bear on her lap. Her infantile play with childhood objects becomes serious when she at the same time is staring questioningly at us. The images are a part of the series Good Behavior (Hyvä käytös), where Susiraja toys with prejudices about how a woman should behave and look like. The self portraits could be seen as an anarchic revolt against today’s selfie culture that usually aims to show oneself from one’s best side.

Several of Susiraja’s images are photographed in her parental home in Turku, Finland. She often uses items that can be connected to a woman’s traditional role in the home, like kitchenware, cleaning equipment and beauty products. In the series Dinner is served (Syömään, poytä on Katettu) the expected use of the items has been distorted. From a leather handbag four raw hot dogs are peeking out, someone has stitched into a pear with a thick red thread, a lace cloth has been used as a template for flour on a table.

Susiraja readily combines self portraits with still life, like in the series Trick master of arts (Taiteiden niksi-pirkka). Here, flowers: the symbol of love and romance, are instead distorting and destroying. In still and simple portraits Susiraja presses and changes her own face with parts of the flower. In the still life photos of the series is it the flowers that are deformed as they are combined with items from the home.

The exhibition includes eight short videos, that can be seen as an extension of Susiraja’s photographs. With a camera standing still she records sequences where she acts out what could seen as bizarre actions. In one clip she sprays cream into a pair of black high heeled shoes that she then puts on an walks away. In another she bakes pie with her own underwear as stuffing.

In Susiraja’s artistry what is considered abnormal is normal and contrariwise. By refusing to mould into society’s narrow ideals she expresses a distinct criticism to patriarchal power structures as she at the same time confronts all of us who perpetuate the norms by adapting to them


Iiu Susiraja (b. 1975) lives and works in Turku, Finland. She is currently studying at the Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki and and will receive her MFA in 2017. Susiraja’s photography has gained a lot of attention in a short time and her works has been showed in solo exhibitions at Fotocentrum Peri, Åbo (2016), Photographic Center Nykyaika, Tampere (2015) and Museum Anna Norlander, Skellefteå (2013). She has also taken part in several group exhibitions such as Kalmar Art Museum (2015), Latvian Center from Contemporary Art (2015) and Kiasma, Finland (2013). Susiraja’s photographs are represented at several museums both in Finland and abroad. Be boring Be happy is Susiraja’s first solo exhibition in southern Sweden.

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