August Joensalo (they/them) is a filmmaker and photographer today based in Helsinki and born in Liperi, a small village in Eastern Finland. During their schooling, which ended with a degree from Aalto University in 2018 with the short film entitled “Filia” and a Master’s degree in Fine Art at HDK-Valand, they realised that as an artist their primary goal had to be to focus on stories worthy of being told and heard but above all stories of those who do not have the opportunity (or the strength) to have their voices heard.
As they explain in thier bio, they use film and images as mediums for creating relatable utopias for queer and trans people. They aim to find ethical ways to represent queer bodies on image, with a special focus on trans narratives.
Through their films and photographs, August put the spotlight on the queer and trans community that they live in every day and of which they are a part. Especially in “Tender” – their latest project – the camera focuses on the faces of friends and neighbours. For August Joensalo, images proved to be the perfect medium to explore and analyse the topic of gender identity in an intimate and delicate way.
The description chosen by August to sum up the meaning of this work could not be more apt: “Searching for moments of peaceful intimacy in the queer lives around me with my friends, partners and lovers.”
Artificial coloured lights, black and white, bedrooms or vast meadows, every technique and every place is just right to represent the serenity of mind that queer or trans people manage to achieve after all the struggles and obstacles they face in their lives. Looking at August Joensalo’s shots we can read the depth of the stories of the people portrayed, but we also perceive a sense of calm, like when the storm finally ends.