Marja Helander was born in Finland in 1965. After originally training as a painter at the Lahti Institute of Fine Arts from 1988 to 1992, Helander then pursued her interest in photography and graduated from the University of Art and Design (nowadays Aalto University) in Helsinki in 1999. In 1994 she was one of the ten finalists of the Fotofinlandia-competition. Since then she has presented works in solo- and group-exhibitions both in Finland and abroad, with many shows in Scandinavia and internationally further afield for example National Gallery of Canada; Hayward Gallery at Southbank Centre, London; Johannesburg Art Gallery and Museo de Arte Moderno, Bogota.
Helander’s work explores the question of identity with regards to her Sámi background. She works with photography, video and installation. Recent photographic work has focused on landscape in which dark, mysterious views are portrayed without people. These examine the modern union between nature and mankind as not harmonious, but dark. On the other hand her video works are humorous, exploring the contradiction between the traditional Sámi way of life and the modern society. Her recent video work Dolastallat won the Kent Monkman award for best experimental at imagineNATIVE Film + Media Arts Festival in Toronto, 2016.
Helander lives and works in Helsinki