Jaana Partanen’s extensive photographic trilogy “Everyday Alchemy” was completed in stages in 2000 – 2007. The opening part Tuhkimo (Cinderella) emphasises the dignity of everyday life. The works of the exhibition deal with a child’s birth and early years of life, the change of the family community and the father’s role in particular. The other part of the exhibition, Ruusunen (Sleeping Beauty), in turn examines aging and the theme of renunciation. In the centre are old women, from among whom Ms. Partanen finds the good fairy godmothers, those who have the ability to share their experience and wisdom as a gift to others. The third and last part of the exhibition, Oikea prinsessa (A Real Princess), delves into the relationship between a pubescent girl and a middle-aged mother. It also deals with change, renunciation and finding something new.
All three parts are products of interaction between the photographer and the people she is portraying. The process was long, slow and laborious. It began with getting to know each other and continuing through conversations to the stage of mutual trust before finally developing the works that are characteristic of each series. These manipulated photographs contain allusions to both the Christian tradition of icon painting and the pictorial world of ancient Egypt. Video works in which there are no human figures are used to guide the themes of the still pictures on a more general level. At the same time as the people as individuals are working on their own story of survival, the large pieces of which the world is composed fit together and fall apart like children’s building blocks. The aesthetics of destruction is never very far away.
The texts are based on Riitta Raatikainen’s writings. The original texts have been published in the book by Jaana Partanen, Arjen alkemiaa (Maahenki, 2007).
Alongside photographic works and the book, the Arjen alkemiaa (Everyday Alchemy) set includes video works, installations, a document and a theatre performance. The exhibition set has been on show in individual exhibitions, for example, in the Finnish Museum of Photography and in the art museums of Kajaani, Lapinlahti and Varkaus, in Photographic Centre Peri and in VB Photographic Centre. The set has been seen in joint exhibitions in Finland and abroad, for example, in Germany and South Africa. It has also toured international festivals, for example, in Spain and several Latin American countries.