We have brought together two Finnish women known for their courage and strong professional integrity: photographer Meeri Koutaniemi and artist Paula Vesala. We can see their joint portrayal of the courageous Marimekko woman through the lens of Koutaniemi and read their personal reflections on courage.
In the new Koutaniemi-Vesala photos, following the Tasaraita (even stripe) and archival dress pictures published earlier this year, Marimekko's bold print design is represented by Maija Isola's Simbad pattern from 1961.
The cotton fabric used for the Juliaana dress in the pictures was printed in our own printing factory in Helsinki, where Koutaniemi and Vesala met each other for the first time.
Women on their own path
Paula Vesala is a Finnish cutting-edge artist known in particular as a singer, songwriter and actor. At the moment, she is studying and teaching playwriting at the University of California. Vesala is a musical visionary who has always had the courage to cross boundaries and listen to her heart in everything she has done.
Meeri Koutaniemi is an internationally award-winning photographer and journalist whose work focuses on social phenomena around the world. She is especially known for her breathtaking photo reportage and views on women's rights.
Meeri's and Paula's thoughts about courage and each other
What is everyday courage? Meeri: Everyday courage is the ability to see what's next to you. As humans, we are defined by the actions through which we can respond to the needs of our fellow beings and show them how much they mean to us. We can use our time actively to improve things that we see are wrong around us. It's all about involvement, speaking your mind and, above all, acting instead of being passive. Paula: Everyday courage means daring to be happy and do things your way regardless of what others may think.
What do you appreciate in each other?
Meeri: Paula is an example of a person who has
followed her passion and honed it into a gift for the rest of us. When we met for
the first time, Paula made an impression on me with her sincere presence,
humour and down-to-earthness. When we were shooting in December, it was cold
and Paula was jumping about in a summer dress, but she didn't complain once. I
have listened to her music and followed her doings, and I find her creative
work a combination of originality, sensitivity and strength. But first and
foremost, she is true to her principles. I appreciate her intellect as well as
her feminist attitude and creative rebellion.
Paula: I remember admiring Meeri's works already years
ago. I think I first became aware of her when she was awarded as the
photographer of the year 2012 and also won a number of other awards with her intriguing,
moving and startling works. I've tried to follow and keep up with her many
works and projects. They are always impressive. She has also advocated
collaboration and is a member 11, a collective of Finnish documentary photographers.
She has made dangerous photo-shoot trips abroad since she was young, and I continue
to be inspired by how respectfully and dedicatedly she engages in the lives of the
people she photographs. It's difficult to name an artist who I respect more
than Meeri. Her works do really matter.