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The Invisible Empire series by Juha Arvid Helminen depicts figures of authority in all black, against dark or black landscapes with their faces obscured. The series revels in darkness, anonymity and brutality. I’ve had an irrational fear of the potential that “the crowd” become (in experiences as mundane as a sports game) since I was young. A few years ago I spent some time in Istanbul when the regime was cracking down on the student protests. In that instance the police were clearly the aggressors. Helminen’s work resonates, whether interpreted through historical fascism or the brutal regime of the day.
In 2006 I witnessed the so called Smash ASEM “riot”. There I
personally saw the dark side of the Finnish police. How young men hid
behind their uniforms and hoods and anonymously committed misconduct.
Later I witnessed the reluctance of the justice system to punish those
Uniforms create unity and through them we can separate a soldier from a civilian.
But sometimes we hide in them when we do something that is really bad
We wear clothes described by religion, profession, political thoughts and
tradition to communicate and represent authority, where we belong and
how we see the world. Often this hides our true persona and creates
walls between ourselves and between the people that we meet.
The characters in my works are the prisoners of these traditions and
walls that we’ve created for ourselves. How close can we, the viewers,
get to the characters that have so much of their personality taken