The Whole Picture – stories behind immigration

A community is like a human body: one person is its brain, another its eyes, another its ears, another its legs, and so on. This way we form a functional entity, and together we can open the doors of society.”
– Intisar Mushailel, The Whole Picture -project, 2022.

The joint exhibition The Whole Picture – stories behind immigration by Finnish Refugee Council and photographer Julius Töyrylä explores belonging to Finnish society and the importance of meaningful relationships for integration. The exhibition will take place from 11th of January to 26th of February 2023 at cultural centre Stoa (Turunlinnantie 1, Helsinki). On the opening day, the project’s website will open and the photographs and stories will be on display on FRC’s social media channels during the three-week campaign.

The exhibition aims to diversify the one-sided imagery and public debate on migration; behind the figures there are whole people and individual life stories, which often do not get to be seen and heard. The exhibition asks what happens after arrival in Finland and what kind of things make the new country feel like home.

The Whole Picture – stories behind immigration is an exhibition built around six different stories, in which the photographs and written stories based on personal interviews come together forming a cohesive collection. The exhibition also explores the global scale of immigration and forced migration, the diverse reasons for moving, and the situation in the countries of origin of the subjects of the stories based on statistics and data from UNHCR.

The project was executed on the participants’ terms, and they had control of the environment and their self-representation of the photographs. The people at the center of the stories come from different parts of the world and to Finland for different reasons; in pursuit of love, to study and as a refugee to escape the horrors of war and persecution.

The exhibition invites viewers to step back from the sensationalist or threat-highlighting discourse on immigration and pause to consider the everyday dimensions of immigration through touching stories.

Integration is much like cooking: you must be patient, by taking your time and slowly simmering, the end result is always better and that much tastier.” – Mikel Basquiat, The Whole Picture –project, 2022.

The photographs and stories were collected in the summer and autumn of 2022.

Julius Töyrylä (born 1989) works with documentary and subjective photography and has been active in the field of art since graduating from the Turku Academy of Fine Arts in 2018. What is important to him in photography is the authenticity of events and a subtle language of expression. Töyrylä has also studied photography at the Adult Education Centre of Lahti and Pekka Halonen Academy, graduating as a photo-artisan. In addition to Finland, Töyrylä’s photographs have been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions in Japan and Mexico.

Read more about the exhibition on Stoa’s website. The exhibition will tour around Finland in 2023–2024.