Meet the Artist – Hinni Huttunen

“Art and being an artist has been a part of my life for as long as I have lived. For me, there has never been another plan”, says artist Hinni Huttunen. In the era of body positivity and breaking stereotypes, the art on body norms and other feminist issues has never been more relevant. Huttunen describes being an artist as something more of a lifestyle than just a job for her. Growing up with an artist mother, Huttunen was encouraged to make art all the while being aware of the realities of life as an artist. 

For a long time, beauty standards have been very limited, not allowing many kinds of people and bodies to fit in. Hinni Huttunen is one of the artists boldly breaking these commercial stereotypes and beauty standards. She works with video and photography making art about serious social issues such as the body norms, the stigma of fatness and questions of femininity and gender norms. Lately, Huttunen has also focused on the emotional side, in themes such as loneliness and love as well as different imaginary beings like her imaginary dog and ghosts. 

Hinni Huttunen: Self-portrait with my Imaginary Dog (2020)

The Pieksämäki-born artist grew up with a mother who is a sculptor and an art teacher. From a young age, Huttunen knew that being an artist was her plan and the only option she was willing to acknowledge. While she was of course encouraged to make art, her mother also wanted to make sure she understood the realities of being an artist: how being an artist is very independent work and often there is not much money. She studied art at the Tampere University of Applied Sciences where she was introduced to media art. The school had a strong emphasis on media art since there is a video and television program on the same campus. That way, media art and photography became her chosen art forms.

Huttunen often performs in her own works. She has been making self-portraits for a long time: it is very practical and easy, since she can choose to work on her own schedule. Huttunen also describes it as rather immediate and also hardcore since being visible in her own artworks puts her in the spotlight, under the audience’s gaze. The artist does not think that she is ever alone in her artworks since the viewer is always present. She thinks a lot about the viewer: Who is watching her videos? How do they perceive her? Who finds comfort in her works? Who she is making them for? 

In Huttunen’s “Video of a fat person not eating in it” (2017), she has portrayed herself sitting still in front of the camera. The setting of the scene reflects the setup of a talk show stage. The idea of the piece is that, in contrast to all the other representations of fat people, Huttunen wanted to make a video of a fat person not eating in it. Fatness is one of the most stigmatized physical features especially for women and in her works Huttunen aims to defy this stereotype.

Stockholm era

After getting her Bachelor’s degree from Tampere, Huttunen continued her studies at the Royal Institute of Art in Stockholm, Sweden. She graduated in 2018 but decided to stay in Stockholm since she found a studio space from an artist-run gallery and a workspace collective called Detroit Stockholm. It is an international collective of around 20 artists from all over the world such as the Nordics, Mexico, United States and Ireland. Huttunen tells us she has really enjoyed working there. Receiving a three year grant from Stockholm’s city Kulturförvantlingen encouraged her to stay in Stockholm. 

Having unexpected art experiences is important to the artist. She gets inspired by the art she sees and the works of her fellow artists and the people she works with such as Illusia Juvani. She lists many artists whose works she loves. Especially Frida Kahlo has had an impact on her making self-portraits early on in her career. Also Tracey Emin and Marina Abramovic have been important for Huttunen for a long time. Huttunen was also excited about the artist group CATPC whose exhibition she saw at Tensta Konsthall last summer. Huttunen feels very passionately about art. “After seeing Tuija Lindström’s exhibition recently at Konsthall, I came home and just started crying. I was so moved by her work”, Huttunen says. 

“Being an artist gives me a certain freedom to live exactly the kind of life that I want. Through my artistic work I can highlight subjects that I feel are important. That’s what I think is important for me about being an artist”, Huttunen describes. Huttunen also lists meeting new fellow artists and being able to explore their work as her favorite things about being an artist. 

Upcoming exhibitions

Huttunen seems to have a busy schedule as she has just arrived home to Stockholm the same morning by a night train from Malmö, where she had an opening. This year brings a lot of new events for Huttunen. The opening at the Gallery CC in Malmö is for an exhibition called FYRTIO which Huttunen is part of. The exhibition has ten curators all of which have invited four artists, Huttunen being one of the invited. The artist also gets her very first museum solo exhibition this year. The exhibition is called Another Real Sphere and it opens on the first of October at Mikkeli Art Museum and it is open till January 22, 2023. The exhibition includes some of her previously seen works but also lots of new pieces, both video and photography. Another Real Sphere is about subjects such as love, dates, fatness, imaginary pets, ghosts, loneliness and exaggeration.

For more information and requests on Hinni Huttunen’s works, please contact AV-arkki’s programme coordinator Tytti Rantanen, 

“Meet the artist” is AV-arkki’s monthly series of interviews with our artists. The interviews are conducted by Vanessa Uhlbäck who is doing an internship in AV-arkki from August to December 2022. Vanessa is completing her Master’s degree in art history at University of Helsinki.