ARTIST INTERVIEW / Hertta Kiiski

Name: Hertta Kiiski
Age: 36
Lives in: Turku, Finland
I Work: nearly always when not in school or playing with the daughters
I think I will grow up to be: a photographer
Things I like: pastéis de nata, diamonds, wool, Monica Fagerholm, old seaside villas, family and friends
Things I dislike: routines
The soundtrack to this exhibition is: Childhood by Beach House & Cemetary Party by Air


What makes Heartta Kiiski panic?

Just about anything. Horror films, of course, but also swimming pools, which are built underground, bubble arenas, sewers, birds, stuffed animals, sleep walking children.


How did you decide to work with images of terror?

There are so many movies that I would like to see, but I know that I can not watch them without being traumatized. For example, Lars von Trier’s “Antichrist” attracts me constantly, but I know that I would never get those images out of my head. I saw ”The Shining” by Stanley Kubrick about fifteen years ago, and the bloody hotel room walls and twins in the end of the corridor are still troubling me.

I am interested with the appeal of horror, such as how small details can create a sense of horror. These pictures were born of the memories created by popular culture. Images with something familiar and something indefinable.


An infant, hair, or winding bush mycelium in themselves are not anything terribly horrible. Which photographic methods create horror effects?

I wanted to make images of things that in themselves are not anything awful or scary. I create a framework for these stories in everyday places. The most horrifying is never what we see, but what we don’t see. Each story creates its own frightening image in the viewer’s mind.

What kind of horror pictures are you drawn to? Why do we seek to see images that are appalling and disgusting?
Louise Bourgeois’ spiders, Hieronymus Bosch and Caspar David Friedrich’s works have something hypnotic in them. Petros Chrisostomou’s photos and Jake & Dinos Chapman’s figures give me shivers. Hair and things magnified to an unrealistically large scale always resonate! 

Beauty quickly becomes boring, but horrors interest tends to be longer. And I guess it works as a cathartic purifying effect.


The images of your Horreur exhibition have a kind of serenity and cool aesthetics despite the frightening atmosphere. Can you find beauty in the most extreme splatter images?

Sure, say, Kill Bill is a visually spectacular! But the bloody guts as such do not scare me or touch. Quiet psychological horror is more the unattainable target of my passion. The deranged beauty that has a story to tell.

Interview: Verna Kuutti
Translation: Edna Nelson

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