Juha Arvid Helminen: The Invisible Empire
In his series ‘The Invisible Empire’, Finnish photographer Juha Arvid Helminen shows the influence of status related clothing on the individual’s identity and behavior, the authority and power that result from society’s official uniforms and how they alter human relations and simply erase the concepts of empathy and humanity.
His dark characters shield their actions behind the mask of anonymity/ invisibility, fanatically following the rules of a reality that has blinded their judgement and conduct. With this illusive faith in ‘dogma’, ‘the herd’ marches merciless towards the destruction of all that lies outside its corrupt and insatiable empire.
In 2006, Juha Arvid Helminen witnessed the so called Smash ASEM “riot”, and he saw how young police men would feel comfortable to do wrong as they felt symbolically empowered in their actions by their uniforms: “Uniforms create unity and through them we can separate a soldier from a civilian. But sometimes we hide in them when we do something that is really bad. We wear clothes described by religion, profession, political thoughts and tradition to communicate and represent authority, where we belong and how we see the world. Often this hides our true persona and creates walls between ourselves and between the people that we meet. The characters in my works are the prisoners of these traditions and walls that we’ve created for ourselves.”
‘The Queen of the Invisible Empire’
‘My Dear Brothers’
‘The Invisible Police’
All images © Juha Arvid Helminen