Exhibition opening on Thursday 11.1. 2024 from 17:00 to 19:00!

The Disappearing Herbarium is a letter that I write to threatened nature. In this collection of works I photograph the endangered plant species of Finland in their habitats. I have the photographs made into pigment prints, and engrave their surface with a metallic pen. The plants I photograph disappear from Finnish nature as well as from the photographs of The Disappearing Herbarium: the engraving makes them glow white in the finished works.

The gesture of traveling is an important part of the collection of works: I do this as a show of respect. I seek out the endangered plants, bidding them farewell as it were, before they vanish. In the summer of 2023 I traveled and photographed plants in Southern Finland. I draw the coordinates for my photographic journeys from current professional observations posted on the Laji.fi website of The Finnish Biodiversity Information Facility. The final plant observations are confirmed by a nature surveyor.

The collection of works is comprised of near threatened, vulnerable, endangered and critically endangered plants. The more endangered the plant, the more I engrave the photograph. The unique works form a collection of numerous plant photographs, The Disappearing Herbarium.

It is important to me to familiarize myself with the works through a slow process, to gradually reveal them through engraving. In the finished works, my engravings replace the green in the photographs: where there should be growth, there’s only white. The grief over this loss becomes the content of my letter. I stay with the plants and allow my hand to be a guide into the emptiness that, at its bleakest, is the consequence of biodiversity loss.

The collection of works is supported by Arts Promotion Centre Finland, the Niilo Helander Foundation, Finnfoto and Finnish Art Society. I have collaborated with Vilma Virtanen (assistant), Saara Kajava (nature surveyor) and Oona Heinänen (graphic design).

Pauliina Heinänen (b. 1992) is a Helsinki based visual artist whose works originate in photographic thinking. Presence, longing, and belonging are recurring themes in her works. Heinänen received a Master of Arts in Photography from Aalto University in 2020 and a Master of Culture and Arts from The LAB Institute of Design and Fine Arts in 2015. Heinänen has published an award-winning book of photographs on Finnish war children: Kotimatkalla/På väg hem (2020). In 2023 Heinänen received the Young Artist Award from The Maecenas Guild. In addition to her own artistic work, Heinänen maintains Uumen ry together with visual artist Laura Konttinen. Uumen publishes the art related texts of visual artists online with the goal of increasing appreciation for the profession.