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aRTIST: jenna rutanen



"You can never go home again, but you can never leave home so it is alright"

-Maya Angelou

I was born and raised in a small village in the middle of Finland. When I was 19, I decided to move in London and get a fresh start in life. Obviously I was too young to understand what I was getting myself into and ended up feeling very lonely and confused in a big city. My teenager years had been very troubled and moving abroad was the final nail in the coffin. Due to leaving my home country, I lost my sense of self (which had not even fully developed), identity and feeling of belonging. I had to reconstruct everything and photography became a great aid in that process. 

I was using a camera as a tool to connect with myself and my surroundings.  Every image that I took was transmitting an emotion, bringing my awareness to how I was feeling. While in London I would photograph old people trying to keep up with the pace of the city. I felt like them, stuck in a world that I do not belong, feeling invisible for others. I noticed these people because I felt like them and I recognized these feelings through the images that I took.

In 2009 I enrolled myself in university to study photography because it was a natural choice. During my university years, I would continue producing very contemplative work and I tried to find some answers to the most fundamental questions in life such as what does home mean for me? Would I still be able to return to my old life which suddenly felt relatively easy compared to what I was experiencing in London? These questions formed a base for my project Home which was published in 2011. The series explores the feelings of loneliness, depression and anxiety related to growing up and finding your place in the world. It is about accepting the fact that you cannot return to the old anymore but home can be found within yourself. I think this idea links beautifully with the quote by Maya Angelou. 

Later, I have also created an installation called Waiting to belong (2012) which is concerned with the notion of "stranger" and "foreigner" inspired by Julia Kristeva's book Strangers to Ourselves. Based on Kristeva's ideas, I wanted to create a grey zone which is when you, as a foreigner, no longer belong to your own country nor the new country. I am personally still in that stage but it is alright, maybe the grey zone is my home.

Jenna Instagram Member.png


I wanted to submit one of my early works because it already demonstrates the way I have used photography for healing myself. Having moved from Finland to the UK, I had lost my sense of identity and belonging and I was completely clueless what I want to do in life. Luckily I found photography and discovered how a camera can be used as a tool to connect with my inner and outer world. Ever since then I have been approaching the world through a lens.

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KvK Nummer: 75384752

Photography Credit: Paula Combs and Lulu Lightning