Merimetsa Rehabilitation  


fashion, photography, and social therapy

medium : large format analog photography, 8x10 inch view camera
exhibitions :
  • HOP Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia (2007)
curators : collaboration with Göteborg University, Sweden, Merimetsa Rehabilitation Center, Estonia & French Cultural Center of Tallinn, Estonia

…The photos of MerimetsanAlchemy are an amalgam between fashion and portrait photography.
The garments and their creators were documented by the photographer Diana Lui who has for a long time consciously worked with the photographic image as an honest portrait interface. The images she produces show a sincere commitment exploring the question of how we relate to ourselves in time. Her operative craftwork and thorough piercing research on the subjects portrayed acts as a tool for revealing the harmony between the masks and roles we enact in everyday life. The photos depict the fragmented and complex alloys of global uprooted identities but always capture the harmonious sides of persons at peace with themselves through the storms of existence. The portraits she takes breaths with every subject’s soul.
With the photographs as manifestations of the design process and a window between two parallel situations of change the portraits are used as a passage for mutual existence. The world of production is mirrored to the world of consumption, but it is in the mirror the transmutation takes form. The situation at Merimetsa is opened to the viewer by using a large format camera with negatives in 8 times 10 inches format and a hundred year old camera. Diana’s profound process of intimate portraiture is a time consuming procedure creating an almost analogue connection between the two contexts, Merimetsa and HOP gallery; two worlds engaged with inner change.

Diana’s arrangement of the photos is also important to mention since it has a specific value to the alchemic processes of MerimetsanAlchemy. The ritualistic and alchemic tool that Diana operates, the photographic apparatus, is a characteristic antique large format camera requiring a thorough process of mounting the equipment as well as loading the large negatives. This slow process creates a common understanding of the photographic moment as a singular situation and serious ritual. The large camera equipment also becomes the center of attention almost like a sacred artifact onto which we project wishes of attention. With Diana at one side as operator (every now and then hiding under the black blanket adjusting the mystical apparatus), the model waits with focused attention and patience, constantly in discussion with Diana. Waiting for the moment of eternity when the shutter is open, letting the reflected light into the dark chamber.
The lens in this case becomes an eye of mutual attention; a meeting of two intentions, wills and souls – witnessed by the photographic film. Through the discussion process Diana summons the attention of the model to the lens in a mutual attempt to transgress unintentional and habitual poses in front of a camera. As the two attentions meet in such as long process a certain common understanding and harmonic relation is created between the two partners of dialogue and most often the portraits manage to reflect this deep process of mutual exchange with the photo as materialized memory of this tacit agreement. As such this quintessential expression is an attitude in harmony, a play of personality and roles at peace. It is an approach beyond garments, materiality and fashion, a meeting into an alchemic alloy.

- Otto Von Busch, fashion researcher, PhD, Göteberg University, Sweden

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