Relive the joy of parties and festivals in Jussi Puikkonen’s nostalgic photo series
Shot across Finland, the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Mexico and France, Jussi’s pictures document the aftermath of parties as the human traces are left on the landscape.
- Ayla Angelos
- 9 August 2021
In a time before now (or more accurately, around 18 months ago), being knee-deep in the swampy mud of a festival, trudging along happily to the left-hand-side of the stage was quite a normal occurrence. The same goes for getting dressed up to head out to a rave, a carnival, or a birthday party with all your favourite people, ready to hug and dance into the early hours of the morning. As parts of the world begin to reopen, it’s hard not to think back to the last time you attended a party or a festival; it feels like a distant memory. But these moments can now be relived in the nostalgic photography work of Jussi Puikkonen, who’s documented the aftermath of the experiences we’ve sorely missed throughout the pandemic.
Titled Afterparty, the series focuses on the human traces left on a landscape, shot in a variety of festivals, public events, anniversaries and house parties across Finland, the UK, Netherlands, Spain, Mexico and France. So although you might not be transporting yourself directly into the party through his imagery, you can imagine yourself at the afters instead – waking up to see the once starlit dance floor now covered in litter, smashed bottles and puddles of booze.
Jussi grew up in the woods in Finland, a place so remote that the pipes in his house would freeze in the winter and it would be normal for a moose to turn up at the front porch. “There was not much to do as a kid, but my parents always encouraged me to do visual arts,” he tells It’s Nice That. “So painting and drawing were my favourite things to do in the woods.” Growing older, Jussi fled the woodland nest to Helsinki and, having met a bunch of like-minded people, this is where his creative pursuits really started to kick off. To such lengths that he decided to study photography in a small town called Lahti, and it was here that he started publishing an independent magazine named Kasino A4 with his friends. “Through the publication,” he adds, “I had the chance to do the kind of photography I wanted to do – not what magazines in Finland would commission me to do – and still get the work published.”
In 2008, Jussi moved to Amsterdam – which is where he currently resides – and he continued to build on his portfolio of commissions for the likes of The New York Times, Monocle and Financial Times How To Spend It. He’s also released a variety of personal projects too, navigating themes of Finnish folklore through his series Sauna Folk, as well as the diminishing car culture of Northern Finland. And before commencing work on Afterparty, Jussi had published a book named On Vacation with Swiss publisher Edition Patrick Frey. A landscape photography project about Finnish summer destinations during the winter, Jussi sees his work with Afterparty as the sequel. “They are both about spaces that get abandoned for a while before they return back to life,” he notes. “They are also spots where some sort of ritual is performed. In Afterparty, the ritual comes as a form of party.”
Witnessing the fallout of a party is an experience that hits deep with Jussi. As a child, he used to be the first one up in the morning, knowing that his parents were still in bed after a party they’d hosted. The home looked different than it did before, with the usual compositions of a familial dwelling replaced by dirty dishes, leftovers, decorations and funny smells. So when Jussi started taking the pictures for Afterparty, it was a similar feeling; he’d wake up earlier than everyone else, usually around five, and head out with his camera. “But the few people who I met varied between funny, scary and sad. In Glastonbury, I met a couple that had lost their car keys and were still waiting for a spare and camping in their tent amongst the apocalyptic scenery of the festival aftermath. After a Finnish forest rave, I met a guy lurking behind the trees who was still apparently on a trip gone bad.”
Another memory of Jussi’s takes him back to the Mariachi Party, located in Barra De Nexpa, Mexico. The correlating image is of an outdoors setting filled with chairs, tables, a red car and empty bottles canopied amongst the palm trees. At the time of shooting, Jussi was traveling by himself and found he couldn’t sleep one evening, due to the loud and cheerful Mariachi music coming from this party. “Even though my sleep was disturbed, I felt happiness entering the room,” he recalls. “The next morning I woke up early and dug out my Mamiya RZ. In Mexico there is a habit of driving the fanciest car in the middle of a party to lift up the spirit. That Mustang and the plastic chairs made one of the most beautiful sunrises of my life.”
There are many more memories like this to be unearthed throughout Afterparty. And even if you weren’t there yourself, Jussi hopes that these pictures will at least stir up some emotions. “I’m a melancholic mind who likes parties,” he concludes. “I wish I can resonate with people who can see the beauty of things coming to an end.”
Jussi Puikkonen: Afterparty. Glastonbury Festival (Glastonbury, United Kingdom) (Copyright © Jussi Puikkonen, 2021)
About the Author
Ayla was an editorial assistant back in June 2017 and has continued to work with us on a freelance basis. She has spent the last seven years as a journalist, and covers a range of topics including photography, art and graphic design. Feel free to contact Ayla with any stories or new creative projects.