Recipe for REVOLT: Claire Aho, photographer.

In anticipation of REVOLT. SHE SAID. REVOLT AGAIN., Soho Rep. asked playwright Alice Birch about art pieces that inspired her play. Alice came back to us with a formidable list of plays, photography, feminist essays, and poetry that have all been an influence on this piece of writing.

In a series we are calling “Recipes for REVOLT”, we will be delving a bit deeper into these art pieces to give you a sense of where this extraordinary play sprung.

“Claire Aho’s career is defined by her pioneering editorial photography and innovative colour techniques…In the early 1950s, at a highpoint in Finnish design culture, Aho (b. 1925, Finland) established a Helsinki-based photography studio under her own name. Her prolific output spanned advertising, editorial, reportage and fashion for a range of commercial applications. She dealt with all aspects of the creative process, from casting models, set-making, styling and lighting to developing and printing her own images.” – (from bio at The Photographers’ Gallery, London, UK)


If you look at these photographs, the viewer sees domestic scenes from the 1950s. But something is awry. A Finnish lady serving tea; a mother and daughter enjoy their refrigerator (ahh, the ’50s!). But the apparatus of photography creeps into the edges. Aho has the outside world literally at the edges of the frame, reminding us of the artificial nature of a photograph, and of domesticity in general. Pretty amazing considering she spent most of her career as a commercial photographer working for catalogues and advertising companies.


In the above photograph, we see an array of prescription drugs, presented with precision and symmetry. The elements of the photograph can be lethal if not taken correctly. The beauty of the composition belies the potential side-effects of the photo’s subject.

How does artifice and reality, precision and mess make their way into Revolt. She said. Revolt again.?


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