Cruel Radiance

curated by Karo Marko and Harry Palviranta

Backlight Festival

What kind of evidentiary power can we associate with images in a world where man-made crises and conflicts have long since exceeded human proportions? How does matter, our material and elementary surroundings, record evidence of violence? What kind of roles do such non-human visual actors have in bearing witness to our pernicious actions?

Cruel Radiance, the 2023 edition of the Backlight festival, examines the evidential aspects of matter through photography and the moving image. From the omnipresence of particle pollution to the lasting legacies of nuclear weapons, from sub-zero temperatures to the residues of the mining industry, the exhibition sheds light on a whole variety of material elements as visual actors with singular testimonial capacities. In so doing, the stage is set for diverse visual dimensions and temporalities of violence ranging from slow cumulative processes to more abrupt conflicts. True to its title, Cruel Radiance invites the viewer to engage with a material repository of our ways of being together.


Artists: Fiona Amundsen and Kanariya Eishi, Solmaz Daryani, Veli Granö, HNV Collective: Felicia Honkasalo, Akuliina Niemi, Sinna Virtanen, Susanne Kriemann, Noelle Mason, Ali Akbar Mehta, Anastasia Mityukova, Susan Schuppli, Anaïs Tondeur, Toshio Fukada, Eiichi Matsumoto.