OIKO PETERSEN (PL, 1983) â€“ graduated from Polish literature and linguistic studies at University of Warsaw (BA 2008) and photography at London College of Communication (MA 2009). He debuted in 2007 with the exhibition entitled "Guys. From Poland with love." In 2007 Petersen was in the group of fifteen most interesting young Polish photographers who were qualified for the PhotoPoland project organised with the help of the Adam Mickiewicz Institute and in 2013 was invited by Fotomuseum Wintherthur to take part in their annually curated international portfolio viewing featuring young emerging European Photographers. His works were displayed, i.a. in The Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw as a part of The Red-eye Effect. Polish Photography of the XXI Century exhibition and at numerous international photography festivals, i.a. in France (Transphotographique09), Finland (Backlight08) and in China (Pingyao International Photography Festival). He tought photography in WSR (Warsaw). At the moment Petersen lives and works in Wroclaw.
| A. Mazur Ph.D., The Decisive Moment. New Phenomena in Polish Photography Since 2000, Karakter, Krakow 2013 |
Oiko Petersen (born in 1983) made his big break at the artistic scene with the series of staged photo portraits under the English title Guys. From Poland With Love (2006).
One of the characteristic features of these photos was the fact that the author approached the topic of sexual minorities in a laid-back manner; and, what is more, the photos explored the potential of â€ža queer campâ€ť. In other words, the title â€žguysâ€ť â€“ as the title of a popular, traveling around Poland exhibition was shortened â€“ are i.a. a sissy scoutmaster, a librarian in bizarre glasses, rosy-cheeked farmerâ€™s son and a pot-bellied circus strongman wearing make-up, who were all photographed with a pinch of salt, warm irony. While talking about the portraits of â€žsoft menâ€ť, Petersen said that â€žthey do not have to be perceived as the portraits of homosexuals; but various attempts to present manhood, which does not have to always take the same macho-style form, from different perspectives. Despite these declarations, the â€žGuysâ€ť photos quickly became one of the artistic icons of the dynamically-evolving gay movement in Poland.
After having portrayed gays from Poland, Petersen started to photograph young people with Down syndrome. Although many critics found the transition from Guys to Downtown (2009) outrageous and incredible, it is possible to find certain consistency in the choice of the subject of the second series: the artist deals with the problem of exclusion and social marginalization. Using the terminology from a medical dictionary, it may be said that Petersen dealt with â€žtrisomy 21â€ť, and speaking in a more humane manner, he photographs children and teenagers affected by congenital genetic disorder. In Petersenâ€™s project the disorder â€“ associated by the majority of the society with an â€žillnessâ€ť â€“ is becoming, maybe not yet an advantage, but something in between - a characteristic, a distinguishing feature. In Downtown, as well as in Guys series, we deal with a characteristic over-accentuating, mixing the photographic conventions (portrait photography, fashion photography, socially-involved photography). â€žDownâ€ť is for Petersen a sign of beauty, but not this commonly seen beauty that one experiences while browsing some â€žnormalâ€ť magazines about fashion and lifestyle, the ones aimed at â€žthe healthy and normal.â€ť
Despite a huge success of Downtown, the artist decided to continue his studies and went to London, where he did a minimalist project - 123 Men in a Blue T-shirt (2010). Photographic portraits of men were created in a studio and they were meticulously stylized; however, they do not show any resemblance to the masquerade in Guys.
The cool, conceptual photography provides space for a more free use of the camera in the continuation of London series of pictures created since 2010. â€žItâ€™s a project about the way we meet and enter relations, a story about friendship, love, and relationshipsâ€ť, says Petersen. A blue T-shirt, in which the artist photographs people who capture his attention, is the main motif of this series as well. Asking the guys to wear a T-shirt and pose makes him feel â€ža bit as if he was trying himself on.â€ť