Johanna Heldebro (b. 1982) is a Swedish artist currently based in Canada. Her often uncomfortably personal work explores notions of obsession, photographic representation and personal boundaries. She is drawn to the forceful tensions inherent to intimate personal relationships, including notions of family, the monotony of the everyday and the shaping of identities within that context.
In White Death (ongoing), Johanna is creating an installation of photographs and sculpture inspired by Finnish Winter War sniper, Simo Häyhä. Häyhä was a man of conflicting character traits and she is examining and juxtaposing these traits up close—the everyman, the hunter, the soldier, the killer, the hero, etc—including the realities he was faced with (the imminent threat of Russian occupation and the subsequent loss of land and home).
White Death was the nickname given to Häyhä after he killed 542 Russian soldiers in less than 100 days in the winter of 1939-1940. He would sustain a bullet wound to his jaw, which left him physically deformed until his death in 2002.
The production of White Death is supported by: Arts Nova Scotia, Canada Council for the Arts and Iaspis – The Swedish Arts Grants Committee’s International Programme for Visual Artists.