The Photobook Award 2022 was granted to Tekla Inari's book Ida Uphill
The Association of Photographic Artists and the Finnish Museum of Photography have granted the Photobook Award 2022 to Tekla Inari's book Ida Uphill. The winner was be chosen by by writer, art historian Anna Kortelainen. The award is granted annually to an exceptional fine art photographic book. The winner receives a prize worth 2,000 €, and the other finalists 500 €.
Ida Uphill is a novel-like collage, and the only fiction among the finalist books. The book is an easily approachable comprehensive work of art with a social and political message. Ida Uphill has been published by Bokeh, which is writer Antti Nylén's three-year experimental publishing art project.
Anna Kortelainen, who selected the winner, says: "Ida Uphill offers the reader the privilege of getting to know a kind of notebook whose images and texts stimulate again and again. The notebook-like nature of the work does not mean sketchiness or incompleteness, but a work that invites you in, challenges you to get close. None of the elements of the work is cryptic or repulsively turned inward, but each of them wants to create a connection with the reader. The whole is tied together by the convincing personality of the title character."
"Ida Uphill is a work about the city through the eyes of a heavy-minded but equally keenly perceptive person: days are different, observations are selected, filtered and preserved in varying ways. The humor is dark and bitter. Ida Uphill’s depression is not a romantic, allegorical lung disease, but burdened by loneliness and isolation. The photographs contain the insights of a melancholic flâneur, a person who moves a lot on foot, around the clock, often looking at the ground, but always secretly awake. In the work, hope rises from a look and a word, and in the same breath fearless social criticism and defiance," says Anna Kortelainen. Kortelainen also praises the book's binding, layout and folding: "It's very pleasant to move around inside the book."
The other Photobook Award finalist are Adele Hyry: Chicken-Legged Hunter Ladybug, Hilla Kurki: Almost All the Flowers in My Mother's Garden (Khaos Publishing) and Henrik Malmström: Do Not Believe Everything (Pseudo Editions)
Ida Uphill is Tekla Inari’s third photographic work in a book form. It elaborates the same crucial themes as the author’s two previous books, “Legacy (Musta taide 2015) and “Blue Years” (Kosmos 2017). In particular, Helsinki scenery and a viewpoint of the “creative precariat” (to which Ida Uphill is also dedicated) form common ground. The relationship and juxtapositioning of text and images is close-knit and intense. Writing has a central place in Inari’s book; she is a rare example of an artist who masters two mediums.
Psychological sensitivity, bleak social realism, and a strong effort not to filter or embellish reality in any soothing way are Tekla Inari’s recurrent “trademarks”.
The present work is, however, almost epic in its dimensions: the book, designed by the author in collaboration with Jaakko Suomalainen, has over 400 unnumbered pages. Additionally, the narrative strategy is prominently fictive: you can actually read Ida Uphill like a novel. Texts and images form a complex collage that gives a detailed, thorough and unfiltered view into the world of a young woman in Helsinki, her thoughts and feelings, dreams, and everyday routine. Inari herself describes her work as a “documentary fiction”.
Ida Uphill is the book’s protagonist, whose experience of poverty, ailing mental health, capitalism and power, but also beauty, yearning, dreams and art are mapped sympathetically, without any intellectual or emotional distancing. The reader will not see Ida’s face. In the book, not many people at all are shown. All we are left is a comprehensive literary and visual study of Ida’s lonely and pressured world.
The book has an English parallel text, translated by Kasper Salonen.
Images and videos: Minna Kurjenluoma