It’s that old saying come to light, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. In this case, artist Riikka Hyvönento finds beauty in a roller derby girls’ occupational hazard turned accidental canvas. Inspired by the feminist, communal spirit of the sport her work reflects the community, fragility, and personal strength of the women who play it.
Roller Derby is high-octane, aggressive, physically demanding competitive contact speed skating sport that originated in the United States (hello Philly Roller Derby Girls). One gnarly side effect is the technicolor rainbow of bruises the players sport after a particularly rough game. Bruising is a trophy in this sport – a proudly earned right of passage from a well-played game.
Hyvönen spent the last year collecting photographs of roller derby girls’ bottoms and converting the bruises – which she calls ‘kisses’ – in giant pop artworks.
“I am objectifying these women totally. But I am doing it exactly in the way they objectify themselves,” Hyvönen says.
“The players fall, and although it hurts, they get up smiling: after the match they are immensely proud of their bruises. Posting photos online and competing in who’s got the most colorful, biggest bruise, is a phenomenon: it would be a shame if no one saw the sign of bravery after a well-played game.
Hyvönen portrays the feminist, communal spirit as one of the essential characteristics of the sport. Even the titles of her works are inspired by the comments posted under the photos the girls have shared on social media:
Oh, Lord. Is That the One That Looks Suspiciously Like My Wheel?! God, I’m Sorry To Have Marked You So :( … Um, Think Of It As A Love Bite? xx” – The Finnish Institute in London
‘Roller Derby Kisses’ is part of an exhibition at the Finnish Institute in King Cross, London, it will run until August 20, 2015.