Heikki Aho (1895-1961) and Björn Soldan (1902-1953) are viewed as pioneers of Finnish documentary film. Through their legendary film production company Aho & Soldan (1925-1961) the Finnish documentary film tradition was born.
Aho & Soldan was founded in 1924 in Helsinki, largely to enable a visual image of Finland as a newly born nation, and was active until 1961.
Heikki Aho and Björn Soldan focused on documentary photography as well as artistic photography and created thousands of pictures. They were members of the modernistic ABISS-group (Aho, Brückner, Iffland, Setälä, Soldan) inspired by the “New Objectivity” and the Bauhaus. The group´s landmark exhibition at Salon Strindberg in May 1930 is regarded as a turning point in Finnish photography.
Aho & Soldan produced more than 400 documentary films, being the largest such producer in the 1930´s in Finland. The first of Aho & Soldan’s 12 long documentary films, “Among the Wild Birds” (Villilintujen parissa) in 1927, was also the first nature film in Finland.
The movie JUHA (1937) was directed by Nyrki Tapiovaara and based on the book from 1911 by their father, the Finnish author Juhani Aho (150th jubileum in 2011). There are 5 JUHA-movies, the first from 1921 by Mauritz Stiller and the latest in 1999 by Aki Kaurismäki. Two operas, by Aarre Merikanto and Leevi Madetoja are based on the book.
Many films, such as the “Finland Calling”- films from 1932 onwards as well as the films 1927, 1945 and 1961 titled "Jean Sibelius at Home" about the family´s friend, the Finnish master composer Jean Sibelius, have been shown internationally.
Heikki Aho received a gold medal for the film "Finlande d'aujourd'hui" at the Paris´ World´s Fair 1937. The film, or parts of it, will be viewable through our web site.
Aho & Soldan´s photographic work has been published in numerous magazines and books over several decades and has been displayed through a number of exhibitions, besides tens in the 1920´s - 1940´s such as at Kunsthalle Helsinki (Taidehalli) 1930 and 1984, Salon Strindberg, Helsinki 1930, Alvar Aalto´s Finnish Pavilion at the 1939-1940 New York World´s Fair, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki 1976, Touring exhibition, Minneapolis, USA and the Nordic Countries 1982-, three exhibitions at The Finnish Museum of Photography 1987, Expohja Fiskars, Pohja 1987, The Finnish Film Archive, Helsinki 1992, Acquario Romano Rooma Italia 1993-1994,Corporation Cultural de las Condes Santiago de Chile 1995, Corporacion Cultural del Vina del Mari 1995, Casa de Cultura Parque Metropolitano 1995, Musée d´art Moderne et Contemporain, Strasbourg 1999, The Finnish Museum of Photography, Helsinki 1999and at the Finnish Design Museum 2010, Association of Finnish Local and Regional and Authorities (Kuntaliitto) 2011, Kuntatalo, Helsinki and at the Finnish National Gallery Ateneum 2011 and Helsinki City Hall´s Virka Gallery 2011. Four miniature exhibitions ranging from 5-10 photographs are and have been separately displayed in the Helsinki region in Finland since 2011. An online exhibition run 2011-2015, on Helsinki City Hall´s Virka Gallery web site. Similarly, their films are shown regularly at film festivals in Finland as well as abroad.
Several books featuring the work of Aho & Soldan have been published throughout 1930´s – 1950´s in different languages. A new trilingual book was published in September 2010 by Teos, "Jean Sibelius at Home". It does comprise 50 photographs from the film as well as articles by Heikki Aho´s daughter, photographer Claire Aho, Andrew Barnett, Markku Hartikainen, Ilkka Kippola, Robin Soldan, Marc Vignal and Timo Virtanen. The project does also include miniature exhibitions with 10 photographs each, as well as a main exhibition with 50 photographs - and also a DVD.
The trilingual book, City Life - Views of Helsinki in the 1930´s, was published in May 2011 by WSOY. It does comprise 60 photographs and includes articles by Jörn Donner and Ilkka Kippola.
Coinciding with the exhibition "Claire Aho - Studio Works" at The Photographers´ Gallery in London in 2013, the Catalogue "Cotton Rhapsody" from 1958 was re-published.
The Photo book "Helsinki in 1950´s Colours" with photos by Heikki Aho and Claire Aho was published in 2014.
In 2016 the Catalogue describing the Aho & Soldan and Claire Aho - Selection at the Presidential Castle in Helsinki, was published.
In 2017 the Catalogue describing the exhibition "MOMENTS - In the Building of a Nation" was published.
The premiere was at Bio Rex in Helsinki on 28 August, 2011 in connection with the Helsinki Festival and at the Ateneum-sali on 1 September 2011. The TV-premiere was at YLE Teema on 10, 11, 15 and 16 September, 2011, latest on 2 September 2013. The film is shown at various film-festivals such as DocPoint Helsinki International Film Festival, International Rotterdam Film Festival, Lisbon Film Festival October 2012, Madrid in March 2013 - it has been viewed by approximately 200 000 persons. ICA - Institute of Contemporary Arts did screen the film on May 24, 2013 in London as a part of the Aho & Soldan film festival 24, 25, 26 & 29 May 2013.
A photo exhibition comprising over 40 photographs from around Finland was held during the summer of 2011 at the Association of Finnish Local and Regional and Authorities (Kuntaliitto) 2011, Kuntatalo, Helsinki.
Since 2011, 5 miniature exhibitions, each comprising 5-10 photographs by Aho & Soldan are open in the Helsinki region alone. Of these, 1 is public and 4 non-public.
AHO & SOLDAN´s vintage prints were displayed at Centre Pompidou - Musée National d´Art Moderne, Paris - Europe´s largest museum of modern art, from April 10 until the end of August 2013 as a part of the museum´s permanent collection. "Lumières du Nord" - Collection Modernes de 1905 aux années 1960. This was part of the overall exhibition: "LA PLUS IMPORTANTE COLLECTION D´ART MODERNE ET CONTEMPORAIN D´EUROPE".
During 2015, at least 14 exhibitions have been held. Jean Sibelius at Home, at the Lincoln Center in New York, February 5 - March 31, at the Finnish Embassy in Beijing during the second half of the year. In addition the AUTOMOBILES & HELSINKI exhibition has been held at the MOBILIA Museum, Kangasala, Finland, June 12 - October 31.
At the Helsinki Airport, terminal 2, gates 37 a-e, five exhibitions titled SIBELIUS & IMAGES OF FINLAND has been held January 15 - December 31. Six exhibitions with the same name has been held at the Academic Bookstore in Helsinki, Finland April 23 - November 8.
Furthermore, several different exhibitions displaying samples of the vast production of AHO & SOLDAN intended to an International audience during 2016-2017 are in various stages of planning.
Besides exhibitions to be individually curated on a case-by-case basis, up to 50 photographs from the book "Jean Sibelius at Home", selected photographs from the "Finland Calling" - exhibition, the "City Life" - exhibition are available.
A special emphasis will be on the artistic and experimental, modernistic photographs by Aho & Soldan from the 1920´s and 1930´s. Only a fraction of these vintage photographs have been shown in public, some were part of the exhibition at the Finnish National Gallery Ateneum 2011 - as can be seen from the exhibition poster.
A long term project under development is the creation of an "Aho & Soldan Institute" in central Helsinki. It is intended to comprise a gallery, an archive, photo collections and a project office. It can function as a place for research, seminars, exhibitions, film screenings, events etc - mainly based on and focused on Aho & Soldan´s production, including photographs and films by Heikki Aho, Björn Soldan. The Institute will also be able to host exhibitions from other International institutions. In the interim, the institure will function "virtually" and through third parties.
For any information regarding films, photographs, books or any of the planned events, the planned Aho & Soldan Institute or if you have any request or suggestion or wish to participate in any of the projects in any way, please contact us by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Click to enlarge and download the flyer 3 X AHO & SOLDAN 1 (2)