"Jouko Lehtola´s photographs document the people and places associated with sub-cultures existing within mainstream Finnish society, such as youth, tattoo freaks, sire of drug overdose deaths or wrecked cars. These may appear to be fringe elements but are actually over-looked aspects of life in Finland’s largely homogenous culture.
Lehtola became known internationally for his portraits of young people and youth culture in Finland. His subjects are young, middle-class kids engaged in adolescent social interaction while under influence of drugs and alcohol. The portraits are mostly close-ups. The viewer is face to face with the subjects, looking into their glazed, self-defiant eyes or at the occasional shy smile as they pose self-consciously. While the images can be disturbing and at times even repulsive, they highlight how vulnerable, how unsure of themselves and how fragile these children really are. Like the American photographer Larry Clark, Lehtola’s presence is accepted by the different adolescent groups. He is somehow involved in their games and activities, participating in their lives while documenting them.
Lehtola´s other subjects, his landscapes, his urban views and his crashed cars, seem inextricably bound to the images of the adolescents. The cityscapes and urban places and the holding cells at the local police station correspond to the lost and provocative attitudes of the young heroes. The photographs of pin-ups and graffiti-covered walls show aspects of their immediate environment, while the pictures of crashed cars reveal the same mixture of violence and vulnerability as the portraits of the young people."