Katriina Haikala

In the picture artist draws a portrait of a woman sitting in front of the artist.

Social Portrait – Women Only, 2017–, A long-term performance, pencil on paper

The artwork is exhibited in the Kaiku gallery on the 5th floor of the Mylly building.


Since 2017, I have travelled around the world drawing portraits of women. I have sat with my models in art museums, where we have looked each other in the eye in silence. Anyone who has happened to be around, regardless of age, ethnicity, or biological sex, has had the opportunity to sit for a portrait with me. I have drawn two portraits of each model and let the model choose one portrait to take home with them, while I have kept the other one in my portrait collection. Now, in May 2023, my collection includes 955 portraits.

When I draw, I fix my gaze on the person in front of me. I never look at the paper. My eyes trace the model’s outline, and my hand records it on the paper. I wish to draw each of my models without being affected by my mind’s interpretation of them, and I also want to provide everyone with an opportunity to become seen. I have chosen this method because it allows me to emphasise the concept of making something visible, which is an integral aspect of the tradition of portrait painting. After all, portraits have traditionally served as a vehicle for making someone visible in the eyes of their contemporaries and the following generations.

Through portraits, art history becomes entangled with the history of power, and power, as is well known, has been manifested in very homogenous ways. Would it be possible to make the division of power and its external manifestations more balanced?

I draw women because the history of art is the history of power.

About the artist

Artist Katriina Haikala was born in 1977 in Kaarina.

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