Finnish photographer Esko Männikkö gained international acclaim in the mid 1990s with the series Far North, depicting isolated bachelors living in the north of Finland. His visually dense photographs of everyday life are informed by a rigorously formal approach to the subject matter. Whether photographing animals, dilapidated buildings, or landscapes, Männikkö’s particular use of cropping and deeply saturated color palette demonstrates a strong affinity to painting. This connection is emphasized by his choice of frames, either found or handmade, and deliberately selected to complement the content of the photograph. Rather than creating fixed narratives, Männikkö’s work calls for a more open-ended, metaphoric mode of interpretation.
The series Harmony Sisters, begun in 2005, comprises tightly cropped photographs of domestic and wild animals, including horses, birds, cows, dogs, and monkeys. Taken in a variety of locations, from farmyards to zoos and natural history displays in museums, these extreme close-ups often focus on the eye of the creature. What might be perceived as an intimate portrait becomes an act of objectification, as Männikkö plays between intimacy and otherness.
Born in 1959 in Pudasjärvi, Finland, Esko Männikkö lives and works in Oulu, Finland. He was the winner of the 2008 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, and the subject of a major retrospective entitled Time Flies, which traveled from the Taidehalli Kunsthal in Helskini (2014) to the Huis Marseille in the Netherlands (2015).
Männikkö has exhibited internationally at the Venice Biennale, the Sao Paolo Biennial, the Yokohama Museum of Art, the Shanghai Museum of Art, and the Tate Liverpool. His work is in the permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Cartier Foundation, Paris; the Moderna Museet, Stockholm; and the Malmö Art Museum, among others. He has published three books including Naarashauki: The Female Pike (2000), which was selected for two compendiums of the most important books in the history of photography.