Nelli Palomäki: Sons of Nakhimov, The Wapping Project Bankside, London

The Wapping Project Bankside latest exhibition features Finnish artist Nelli Palomäki’s latest series Sons of Nakhimov for the first time in the UK, following recent exhibitions at Les Rencontres d’Arles and KulturhusetSons of Nakhimov is a series of large scale, black & white portraits of young pupils from the Nakhimov Naval Academy, a Russian military school in St Petersburg and opens on 9 November.

In this body of work, which addresses the tradition of classic, black and white photographic portraiture, Palomäki depicts a group of teenage boys, whose appearance and demeanour hardly belong to this century. The timeless atmosphere of the boarding school, its rigorous discipline, the comradeship between pupils and the loneliness of some are captured in this quietly eloquent series, which raises questions about identity and coming of age.

Exploring the notion of the photograph as memory and the kind of associations this can lead to, Palomäki’s portraits command a Proustian way of looking. Recalling the work of Diane Arbus, each portrait digs up the soul of the sitter and explores the dialogue between artist and subject, as Palomäki’s models display an awareness of their implication in the photographic process.

Sons of Nakhimov, 9 November until 21 December,  The Wapping Project Bankside, 65a Hopton Street, London, SE1 9LR.


1. Sergey, 2011, Nelli Palomäki, courtesy the artist and The Wapping Project Bankside.
2. Alexander, 2011, Nelli Palomäki, courtesy the artist and The Wapping Project Bankside.
3. Vladimir and Eduard, 2011, Nelli Palomäki, courtesy the artist and The Wapping Project Bankside.

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