Marja Pirilä

Speaking House

Sometimes a place can push us towards the unknown,
towards the innermost self.
I once happened on a place with speaking light.
For a long time I wandered around the abandoned house.
And the sun circled the building, the earth circled the sun.
Decaying spaces and light spaces fused into one,
transforming constantly.
Something shattered and disappeared into the light.
I remained and marvelled.

Camera obscura (Latin for “dark room”) is a phenomenon where light passing into a dark space through a hole or lens forms an upside-down image of the view outside. Scientists, artists and philosophers have used the phenomenon for centuries in their work. Camera obscura has been a theme in many of my projects over the past decade. Speaking House is a series of photographs made in an abandoned house which used to be a mental hospital. I have transformed its rooms into camera obscura and photographed them with a big format camera. The time-worn spaces, already amazing in their native state, have absorbed reflections from the outside world during long exposure times (up to an hour). In the images, the dilapidated spaces merge with spaces of light. The slow work has been like meditation of light.