Some Kind of Heavenly Fire
Maria Lax comes from a small town in Northern Finland, surrounded by a vast, sparsely populated wilderness. Most pass through this town on their way to someplace else, without ever knowing that it used to be a hotspot for UFO sightings in the 1960s. Unaware of this history herself, it wasn’t until she read a book by her grandfather that she learnt of the incredible stories about supernatural events, bravery and the struggle against hardship in what is largely a barren land. Already suffering from dementia, Lax’s grandfather was unable to answer any of her questions, so she went looking for answers elsewhere. Lax turned to the people who had seen the mysterious lights and went through newspaper archives and her family’s photo albums from that era. The UFO sightings coincided with a time of great struggle in Northern Finland. In search of jobs, people flooded from the countryside to the cities, leaving abandoned houses scattered across this harsh, yet beautiful landscape. It is no wonder that the UFO sightings embodied a fear of the future, with the unknown and the inexorable shifts in lifestyles and livelihoods going on in society. Some reacted with fear to the mysterious lights, others took them as a sign that they were not alone.

Maria Lax is a London based photographer, originally from a small town in Northern Finland. She is known for her use of colour and for seamlessly blending reality and fantasy in her work. Lax’s background in cinematography shines through in her strong use of lighting and experimental camera techniques. Her work has been exhibited worldwide and published in The Guardian, British Journal of Photography, WIRED, American Suburb X and Financial Times among others. She was one of the winners of the British Journal of Photography’s Female in Focus award in 2019 and her project Some Kind of Heavenly Fire was shortlisted for the PHmuseum Photography Grant 2020. 

Maria Lax (FI) "Some Kind of Heavenly Fire" - Helphoto 2020
Maria Lax (FI) "Some Kind of Heavenly Fire" - Helphoto 2020