The Black Cat Kingdom
"Walking through her local area one morning, Sari Soininen detoured through an unknown alleyway. On turning the corner, a gang of five black cats began running towards her. “I felt like I’d encountered a glitch in the Matrix” she said, “I began visiting these cats daily for a period of three months through the first lockdown of 2020. They gathered up into the same alleyway every morning. I brought them food and played with them.”
Using flash with colour gels, Soininen transforms the cats into colourful, otherworldly creatures inhabiting a fever dream. Her photographic process draws on philosophical wonderings about reality, and her personal, mystical experiences; Soininen offers the viewer a vision of alternative realities as she sees them. The Black Cat Kingdom was created at the same time as her first major publication, Transcendent Country of the Mind (The Eriskay Connection 2022), in which she reconjured a way of seeing she experienced during an LSD-induced psychotic episode in her early twenties.
The black cat is a rich folkloric and superstitious symbol across many cultures, and in this project they are treated as such. To the Celts, black cats were sacred; the ancient Egyptians worshipped the Goddess Bastet, who was depicted as a black cat; and black cats are repeatedly referenced in pop culture and cinema, such as The Matrix.
The format of the book is labyrinthine. A surreal and winding journey through multiple sections and gatefolds, overlapping to create a concertina-like structure. The book reveals itself in new ways upon each viewing.
Black Cat Kingdom will be published to coincide with Soininen’s first major solo exhibition at the Lahti Museum of Visual Arts Malva, Finland in November 2023. A UK launch of the book will also take place at Photobook Café, London in October.