Milja Laurila (b. 1982) graduated with an MA in Photography from the Aalto University in Helsinki in 2010. Throughout her career, she has used old photographs as material for her works. In her debut To Rememer, at Photographic Gallery Hippolyte in 2007, Laurila utilised pictures from her own childhood family album. Later she has focused on images found in old encyclopedias and medical books. She is particularly interested in the relationship between words and photographs and the decontextualisation of archival images.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

The title of my series is taken from a 1930’s fact book on women. An influential text in sexual science of its time, it is illustrated with hundreds of photographs of naked women and children from all over the world. I have kept the captions as such but replaced the original images with ones I have found in my personal archive. The result is a play between word and image, fact and fiction, provoking questions regarding colonialist practices, research ethics, the role of women in science and photography’s relation to words. The project is in progress, with approx. 100 images. As well as exhibiting the works, I am making a book – a new version of the 20th century feminine encyclopedia.

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Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 355. Small nipples in a young Sicilian.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 345. Sicilian with raised and sharply defined areolae. Frequent form in Southern Europe due possibly to racial admixture.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 132 b. Blonde European.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 5. The normal vulva with legs closed.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 59 a. 19-year-old virgin with visible hymen.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 344 b. Early stage of bowl-shaped breasts in a Tunisian girl.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 47. "Hermaphrodite" from Loango.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 585. The fruitful housewife.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 424. Girl of 14 years, showing second stage of breast development.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 1002. A dead woman comes to life.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 159. Aymara (Peru) girl of 10 years. The measuring rod is 1 m. high.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 713. Egyptian birth scene.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 268. Eight-years-old Bushman girl with beginning of steatopygia.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 312 a. Kenya girls about to be excised.

Woman. An Historical Gynaecological and Anthropological Compendium.

Fig. 76. Mixed blood. Vedda and Singhalese.
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