Finnish artist Juha Arvid Helminen is uncovering a veil of darkness and attempting to show what dwells within in his Invisible Empire series of black on black figures. "I am contemplating the relationship between the character and the audience when the elements given are so scarce," he says. Those elements include fascist style uniforms, bodies wrapped in black fabric from head to toe and pointy headpieces reminiscent of Pyramid Head in Silent Hill. Helminen's narrative surrounds "A family stained with decadence and disgrace, living in the past without being able to renew itself."
His dark icons of pain and memory are the opposite of a series of white figures he did several years ago. Helminen explains, "In my White Series, I [searched] for a safe haven, a Midian of sorts where everyone can find their place." By masking the body entirely, Helminen instead exposes hidden meanings in a world which is wrought with theatrical gestures and a dreamy (or nightmarish) landscape.
Sure, Joel-Peter Whitkin and Gottfried Helnwein come to mind in the sense that all are attempting to create a universal visual language for something we would rather turn our eyes from. However, Helminen creates the distance we need to enter his world by hiding what is recognizable. He's less interested in the confrontation of a Helnwein installation and more keen on reconstructing fragments of shame and reflection. The viewer is left to reconfigure the narrative and become the subject. As the Invisible Man warns in the 1933 film, "You've driven me near madness with your peering through the keyholes and gaping through the curtains. And now you'll suffer for it!"
Check out more pictures after the jump.