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Photographs by Leena Ylä-Lyly at the Studio of Culture House Laikku deal with emptiness, silence and grief

Published 27.12.2021 11.03

“Accept the grief.
Accept the pain.
Accept the loneliness and the broken heart.
Let the grief sweep over you like a wave.
Over, until it rises again.
Everything is constantly changing.
Everything is here.”

A photograph, which shows a wave coming from the left and breaking with foam on dark waters.

It Is What It Is came into being when I was widowed in the spring of 2017. I started to examine grief. I noticed that grief is like a wave, always on the move. Sometimes it’s strong, sometimes it's less intense. I felt that I had no choice but to surrender to it and I noticed that I can survive. Until the wave sweeps over me again. Grief will perhaps never go away, but one can learn to live with it. This experience is universal, yet often not talked about. Grief will take its time, and too often people try to deal with it alone. It Is What It Is approaches grief and seeing and accepting it as it is, without clinging to it, without valuing it.

Leena Ylä-Lyly (1979- ) is a photographic artist living and working in Helsinki. She earned her Master of Arts degree from the Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture in 2017. Ylä-Lyly’s artistic work focuses on death, emptiness and silence. She is often influenced by Zen Buddhism and the related arts. What interests her in a photograph is its inherent silence, and the movement contained within that silence. Ylä-Lyly has taken part in group exhibitions and worked in various residences in Finland and abroad. It Is What It Is is her sixth solo exhibition.

The artist’s work and this exhibition has been supported by the Juhani Keskinen Estate, Arts Promotion Centre Finland, Väinö Tanner Foundation, Kone Foundation and the Finnish Cité Internationale des Arts Foundation.

The exhibition is open 8.1.-30.1.2022, tue-fri 9.00-21.00, sat-sun 10.00-18.00. Free admission.

Possible changes in the program at

Further information

Karoliina Paappa Tel. 044 481 1775

Text Leena Ylä-Lyly, Virve Siikanen

Photos Leena Ylä-Lyly