Toni Kitti (b.1975) is an artist based in Helsinki, Finland.
He has graduated as a Master Of Arts in Photography in Aalto -university in Helsinki. Toni Kitti's main media is photography but he has also made video and istallations. He has previously participated in group exhibitions in Finland and abroad.
This spring, 2017, he has his first private show in Helsinki. It is called "The Persistence Of Plastic".
The basis for Kitti's art is his love for plastic. With the pictures of plastic items and self-portraits he deals with the very basic questions of being a human: life, death, joy, shame, survival etc. Toni Kitti got sick with AIDS in 2012 unknowing of the infection and actually not believing in the HIV at all after having fallen into internet false media about the subject years before. After barely surviving the disease AIDS and HIV have been a major theme in his work.
Statement - The Persistence Of Plastic
I love plastic! Plastic is immortal because it does not decay. How ever, I do. In 2012.09.27 I was hospitalized in Berlin being very ill. The diagnose was a full-blown AIDS.
I spent two weeks out of this world in hallusinations caused by the fever and shock. When I returned to my senses I had to realize that my life had irreversibly changed: I was HIV-positive, and had a serious pneumonia. My prognosis was very uncertain. I stared death in the eyes for months.
AIDS brought me the kind of diseases which could be cured by medication. I survived and the doctors reminded me that I was lucky. Anyhow I had to pay a high price for my luck. AIDS also brought me a cancer called Kaposis Sarcoma that causes red cancer lesions on my skin. They covered my body from head to toe. I turned into a horrible monster that was marked by death. It has been over four years since I got sick but all the lesions on my limbs have not yet faded.
My document about Kaposis Sarcoma is internationally unique and unseen artwork because this subject has not been documented anywhere like this. The reason is that the artists during the AIDS crisis in 1980’s-90’s simply died before they got to reflect their sickness in their art. Other reason is that nowadays the condition is very rare at least in the western world.
Shame kills life. I was down that path too, until I got sick, and I had to face myself completely naked. I just coud not cover myself anymore. I had done things that were considered shameful and from which deeds I could see marks on my skin everytime I looked at myself. As a member of sexual minority I had been ashamed of things that one should not be ashamed of.
However, the more often and more openly I looked at myself I learned acceptance. I learned to accept that I had acted very stupid. I learned to accept that this is who I am. I also learned that the only way to get rid of the shame is to talk about it openly. People live in shame all the time for big or small things when they should just face themselves and ease the burden. I know I am a far more solid and stronger person now than before my illness.
Life is here and now, and you have to live it fully, without shame, smiling , in order to make it worth living.
Also plastic causes shame. As one major factor in the pollution crisis plastic causes very negative associations in people. I love plastic! The Persistence Of Plastic is a series of photographs about life and death and it’s marks and traces.
Plastic is traces of plants that died hundreds of millions of years ago, and which time has turned into oil which man has turned in to plastic items. The circle is complete when we manufacture almost real looking plastic toy trees. With it’s energy of death plastic imitates life. Then I take pictures and save the energy in photographs to remind us of the inevitable death, but also about the funny vanity of beinh a human. The plastic toy tree will never decay and the traces of human being will remain on this planet forever.
I also melt plastic on a plaster mold of my face and make masks that I wear in the self-portraits. That way I make myself plastic, too. I smile in the pictures and I always smile under the mask, too, even thoug the mask covers it sometimes. Anyway, In the real life you do not smile under the psychological masks you wear everyday. Those masks choke your inner child and hide your true self away. Take them off!
I have taken all the pictures with my mobile phone camera, except one shot. The pictures are like selfies that the plastic objects would take of themselves smiling wide! The picture quality can be questionable, as in larger prints you can see the pixels,that are like cells that create a living dead organism, the photograph. The digital processing is also harsh: In my self-portraits it is as if I was torn off to the stage. Yet this is how it has to be because life is harsh. It tears us apart and after that it laughs. But when I am at my best I am right there and laugh with it!
Born in 1975 in Ii, Finland. Lives and works in Helsinki, Finland
Telephone: +35840 555 1694 Email: [email protected]
2010 Master of Arts, Photography, Aalto University, Helsinki, Finland
1998 – 2001 Bachelor of Arts, Photography, University of Industrial Arts, Helsinki, Finland
1997 – 98 CAP basics, Joensuun Oppimiskeskus, Joensuu, Finland
1994 Student from the Gymnasium of Haukiputaan lukio, Haukipudas
2017 “The Persistence Of Plastic”, Galleria Lapinlahti, Helsinki, Finland
2017 “BODYSPACES | HUMANS+HYBRIDS”, Rome, Italy
2010 F”innish Queer Art”, Q Art Lounge, Helsinki, Finland
2003 ”Das Einverlasste Korsett”, St. Johan, Austria
2003 ”The Northern Fruit – Erotic photographs of disabled”, Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland
2002 ”Correlations”, Fotoforum West, Inssbrück, Austria 2002 ”Correlations”, Fotogalerie Wien, Vienna, Austria
2001 “Young Contemporary Finnish Photography”, 6th Internationale Fototage Herten, Herten, Germany
2000 “Human Everyday Life”, Gallery Atski, Helsinki, Finland
2016 Designer of lighting fixtures
2013 - Entrepreneur, artist
2009 – 2012 Teacher: photography, Muurlan kansanopisto, Salo
2008 Photographer, Ilta-Sanomat, Helsinki
2007 News photographer, Forssan Lehti, Forssa
2004 – 2009 Teacher: photography, (Muurlan kansanopisto, Heltech, Salon Kansalaisopisto) 2003 Photographer, Talouselämä, Helsinki
1999 – Freelance -photographer
Finnish Mother tongue
An article in Finnish Broadcasting Compaly (YLE) about art and hiv and aids and surviing the shame (in Finnish)
An article in the biggest Finnish newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, about life and hiv and aids and surviing the shame (in Finnish)
The text about the exhibition in Rome in 2016 - 2017 (in English)