Milja Ilona Salonen

Picture of a naked person made from clay who is stretching their eyelid with a finger.

The artwork is exhibited in the Kuva/Tila gallery on the 1st floor of the Mylly building.


You, looking at me looking at you looking at me. Your gaze following the patterns it has learned, relying on old maps, conventional structures of looking instead of actually seeing.

It was about five and a half years ago, in some museum in Berlin. I was looking at one of the many versions of the Rape of Proserpina, feeling increasingly uncomfortable in the same way as when looking at rape scenes in movies or television series, the ones written in simply for entertainment. How am I supposed to be part of this canon? How is my body ever supposed to be an active agent in this world? How am I ever going to be able to make peace with the history I am supposed to build on?

Self-Portrait as Medusa is a way of processing this crossfire of looking and being looked at; the impossibility of separating myself from the images of women created by men that fill the history of our visual culture. Those images taught me how to look, not just at others but also at myself. Unlearning that gaze is a difficult and winding path.

Medusa’s strength was her gaze that turned people into stone. Within the canon where the dominant gaze has been male, Medusa offers us the possibility of a different kind of narrative.

About the artist

Artist Milja Ilona Salonen was born in 1992 in Kellokoski.

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