Aalto University of Art and Design, Helsinki, Finland
Photo Associations & Memberships:
Finnish Art Photographers
About Atelieri O. Haapala
Atelieri O. Haapala is a Neo-Victorian portraiture studio and a collaborative art project. The studio seeks to create anew the Victorian epoch by means of photography and performance art. The protagonists of this reenactment are Mrs. Onyxei Haapala and her faithful companion Mr. Helmut Schweinstein. Atelieri O. Haapala is the brainchild of Helsinki-based photographers Saara Salmi and Marco Melander, who have conducted the project since 2008.
Atelieri O. Haapala offers an alternative to everyday reality - the past. Atelieri O. Haapala does not aspire to faithfully replicate history, but rather to create fiction nostalgically inspired by the visual realm of the 19th and the 20th century, an era characterized by optimism and strong faith in technological development. In spite of using modern equipment to produce the photographs, Atelieri O. Haapala's inspiration and idols can be traced back to the dawn of photography and the bedrock found in the portrait painting tradition that is over five centuries old.
Atelieri O. Haapala began in 2008 by photographing at public events, mimicking 19th century touring photographers. In these events the duo take on their roles as the Victorian photographers Mrs. Haapala and Mr. Schweinstein. The public has had the opportunity to be photographed in the same fashion as a century ago, posing in front of a backdrop that was painted by hand. The finished portraits are made to resemble cabinet cards, photography prints of the late 1800s, completing the illusion of a real Victorian photography studio.
Although representing the art form of the 19th century, the studio does not constrain itself strictly to the Victorian era. Their historical timeline spans from the year 1839 to 1939. This carefully chosen time period of one hundred years begins from the moment the daguerrotype, the first widely adopted photography method, was made public domain by the French state, and ends in the unfortunate unfolding of the Second World War.
Atelieri O. Haapala, in addition to studio portraiture, still tours at public events. The studio has also created a series of photos that open a photographic portal into the curious world of Onyxei Haapala and Helmut Schweinstein.