Heikki Aho (1895-1961) and Björn Soldan (1902-1953) are viewed as pioneers of Finnish documentary film. Through their legendary film production company Aho & Soldan (1925-1961) the Finnish documentary film tradition was born.
Aho & Soldan was founded in 1925 in Helsinki, largely to enable a visual image of Finland as a newly born nation, and was active until 1961.
Aho & Soldan produced more than 400 documentary films, being the largest such producer in the 1930´s in Finland, as well as the movie JUHA (1937) directed by Nyrki Tapiovaara and based on the book by their father, the Finnish author Juhani Aho. See the following pages for further information about the films http://www.elonet.fi/company/yh4hl0/ and to view a number of films online http://yle.fi/elavaarkisto/?s=h&g=&n=soldan&k=&m=
Many films, such as the “Finland Calling”- films from 1932 onwards as well as the films 1927, 1945 and 1961 titled "Jean Sibelius at Home" about the family´s friend, the Finnish master composer Jean Sibelius, have been shown internationally.
Heikki Aho and Björn Soldan were members of the ABISS-group (Aho, Brückner, Iffland, Setälä, Soldan) in the 1930´s, focusing on “New Photography” inspired by the Bauhaus. They focused on documentary photography as well as artistic photography and created thousands of pictures. The group´s landmark exhibition at Salon Strindberg in May 1930 is regarded as a turning point in Finnish photography.
Their photographic work has been published in numerous magazines over several decades and has been displayed through a number of exhibitions such as at Kunsthalle Helsinki (Taidehalli) 1930 and 1984, Salon Strindberg, Helsinki 1930, Alvar Aalto´s Finnish Pavilion at The 1939-1940 New York World´s Fair, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki 1987, The Finnish Film Archive, Helsinki 1992 and Musée d´art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg 1999 and most recently at the Finnish National Gallery Ateneum 2011 and Helsinki City Hall´s Virka Gallery 2011. Similarly, their films are shown regularly at film festivals in Finland as well as abroad.
Several books featuring the work of Aho & Soldan have been published throughout 1930´s – 1950´s in different languages. A new book was published in September 2010 by Teos, "Jean Sibelius at Home". It does comprise 50 photographs from the film as well as articles by Claire Aho, Andrew Barnett, Markku Hartikainen, Ilkka Kippola, Robin Soldan, Marc Vignal and Timo Virtanen. The project does also include miniature exhibitions with 10 photographs each, as well as a main exhibition with 50 photographs - and also a DVD.
CITY LIFE - KAUPUNKILAISELÄMÄÄ - JÖRN DONNER, ILKKA KIPPOLA (WSOY, 2011)
Aho & Soldan´s work has recently been and will be commemorated in several ways in the near future.
CITY LIFE - VIEWS OF HELSINKI IN THE 1930´S AT VIRKA GALLERY 1.6. - 4.9.2011
Furthermore, a large and long-term international touring exhibition featuring photographs from the book "Jean Sibelius at Home" and Aho & Soldan´s exhibition and film "Finland Calling", which includes music by Jean Sibelius, is being planned for the years 2011 - 2017.
A special emphasis - through separate exhibitions - will be on the artistic and experimental, modernistic photographs by Aho & Soldan from the 1920´s and 1930´s. Only a fraction of these vintage photographs have been shown in public, some were part of the exhibition at the Finnish National Gallery Ateneum 2011 - as can be seen from the exhibition poster (see bottom of page).
Also, when feasible, the planned exhibitions leave room to include other photographs by Aho & Soldan´s vast archive as well.
A long term project under development is the creation of an "Aho & Soldan Institute" to be located in Helsinki. It is intended to function as a place for research, seminars, exhibitions, film screenings etc - mainly based on and focused on Aho & Soldan´s production, including photographs and films by Heikki Aho, Björn Soldan - and "The Grand Old Lady of Finnish Photography" - Claire Aho
For any information regarding films, photographs, books or any of the planned events, the planned Aho & Soldan Institute or if you have any request or suggestion or wish to participate in any of the projects in any way, please contact us by e-mail: email@example.com.
Artiklar / Articles
PRIMA - lehti nro 5 8.9.2011 s 48 - 53 Kun Suomi sai kasvot (WHEN FINLAND GOT A FACE)
YLE Radio 1 - 24.6.2011 (YLE RADIO 1 - 24 JUNE 2011)
Viikon tietokirja: Kaupunkilaiselämää - 1930-luvun Helsinkiä. Ilkka Kippolan haastattelu. (THE BOOK OF THE WEEK: CITY LIFE - VIEWS OF HELSINKI IN THE 1930´S. INTERVIEW WITH ILKKA KIPPOLA). http://areena.yle.fi/audio/1308573401827
KAMERA-lehti 6-7/2011 s 26-33 (CAMERA-MAGAZINE NR 6-7/2011)
AHO & SOLDAN - Kone- ja kansallisromantiikan isät (AHO & SOLDAN - The fathers of Machine- and National Romanticism)
As the master composer disliked being photographed, Jean Sibelius was rarely caught on camera. In 1927 and 1945, the film company Aho & Soldan was allowed to shoot a documentary featuring Jean Sibelius at Home http://www.yle.fi/elavaarkisto/?s=s&g=8&ag=47&t=117&a=8909. This book contains 50 photographs selected from the films along with expert articles, (Teos 2010).
Finland Calling - Aho & Soldan 6 May - 4 September 2011
The Finnish National Gallery Ateneum
Ateneum presents the legacy of Aho & Soldan in new Finland Calling exhibition
A new exhibition at Ateneum Art Museum entitled Finland Calling - Aho&Soldan presents the lifework of Heikki Aho and Björn Soldan, two of the most influential constructors of the modern image of Finland. The company Aho&Soldan founded in 1925 by the pioneering duo of Finnish photography and film became the dynamo of the cinematic arts. Their entire production opened up new perspectives on Finnish concepts of beauty, the history of everyday life and the industrialisation processes in society. Curated by Tuula Karjalainen (PhD), the exhibition includes travel films from the series Finland Calling, as well as other films and a wide range of photographs.
Heikki Aho (1895-1961) and Björn Soldan (1902-1953) were pioneers of Finnish film and photography. They made hundreds of short and long travel and documentary films, including two key domestic feature films. Their photographs were published in books, magazines and travel brochures.
Heikki and Björn were the sons of the author Juhani Aho; they were both half brothers and cousins. Heikki’s mother was Venny Soldan-Brofeldt, whose sister Tilly Soldan was Björn’s mother. The brothers complemented each other perfectly. Their most important films and photographic works were the products of teamwork. Eino Mäkinen, whose work was presented in an exhibition at Ateneum in winter 2010, also worked at Aho&Soldan, the company established by the brothers in 1925.
The photography and films of Aho and Soldan were strongly influenced by montage films and the experimental spirit of the Bauhaus. The brothers were part of the legendary ABISS group, whose members also included Vilho Setälä along with Hans Brükner and Heinrich Iffland, who moved to Finland from Germany. The group was inspired by modern industry architecture, urban scenes and streets filled with the everyday buzz of traffic. An exhibition held by the group in 1930 was considered a turning point in Finnish photography.
Most of Aho&Soldan’s films were commissioned works, including advertising and propaganda films. Their most important films were made to promote tourism and industry and distributed internationally by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. A silent version of their film Finland Calling was released in 1932. In 1936 and 1940 narrated compilations were released, praising Finland’s natural beauty, sights and attractions, modern way of life and industry. These films were released in numerous languages, attracting visitors from abroad and encouraging travellers in Finland. Finland Calling was also screened at New York World’s Fair in 1939 and 1940. In the 1940 release the happy days of domestic tourism and urban life end with the bombings of the Winter War. The brothers continued their work throughout the war, Heikki Aho with the Information Company of the Finnish Armed Forces and Björn Soldan on the home front.