Tuija Lindström was a notable photographer. In 1992 she became the first woman to be appointed professor at Högskolan för fotografi och film (the school of photography and film) at Gothenburg university.
Tuija Lindström was born in Kotka, Finland in 1950. She moved to Stockholm in 1975 and then, from 1981–1984, trained at Konstfack (school of arts, crafts and design). It was there she learned to work with large format cameras and advanced darkroom techniques. She became well-known through her series of intimate black and white portraits of her friends and cultural celebrities. These included the likes of Pia, from 1983, both naked and clothed, the expressive Aulikki, also from 1983, and the portraits of Jonas and Jussi, from 1982, in which the young author Jonas Gardell looks straight at the camera whilst Jussi gently leans on his shoulder.
Tuija Lindström belonged to the photographer Christer Strömholm’s circle. He used classical black and white photography for more personal and artistic projects. By the time of Strömholm’s exhibition entitled 9 sekunder av mitt liv, held at Moderna Museet (museum of modern art) in 1986, a younger generation of photographers, copyists, designers, and journalist had all congregated around him. One of these people was Johan Ehrenberg, the publisher of the journal ETC, which carried reports by both older and younger photographers. ETC number 7 from 1988 also served as an exhibition catalogue for a Swedish photography display in Houston during FotoFest that same year, including six photographers from Sweden, namely Håkan Elofsson, Kenneth Gustavsson, Tuija Lindström, Anders Petersen, Gunnar Smoliansky, and Hatte Stiwenius. The cover featured Tuija Lindström whose Houston presentation was a series of nude female studies. This was a theme she had examined and worked with for several years and which developed into the conceptual suite entitled Kvinnorna vid Tjursjön, in 1991. The photographs depicted women floating in dark waters. The images were placed next to enormous pictures of irons, thereby creating a tension between the wet, light-coloured bodies and the sharp contours of the irons. About half of these images are covered in red, leading one to think of blood. A 16mm black and white film accompanied the images. ETC Förlag (publishers) released Tuija Lindström’s first book of photographs in 1989.
Tuija Lindström worked as professor at Högskolan för fotografi och film at Gothenburg for a ten-year period from 1992 to 2002. The teaching programme took an increasingly theoretical direction during her time at the school, which was of major significance to the students who graduated during this time. At this time Tuija Lindström became a substantial role model, particularly for many female photographers in Sweden and in the other Nordic countries. She had articles written about her from an early stage and appeared in various “at home with”-style reports. Several interviews she gave covered her difficult childhood in the harbour town of Kotka as well as her life as a photographer. It also emerged that her appointment as professor of photography in the early 1990s in Sweden as a woman was not uncontroversial.
Tuija Lindström spent a few years living on Öland after her stint in Gothenburg but then returned to Stockholm. Her later works include a series of colour images of carnivorous plants against a white background. She continued to experiment and re-invent herself throughout her career, working on portraits, landscapes, and still-lives. The feminist perspective is always present in her work. She held a major retrospective at Liljevalchs gallery in Stockholm in 2004, followed by significant exhibitions at the Hasselblad Center in Gothenburg in 2012, at the Swedish Institute in Paris in 2014, and at the Helsinki photographic museum in Finland that same year. Her work also forms part of the collection at Moderna Museet.
Tuija Lindström died in Stockholm in 2017 following a period of illness.