The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen.
Photographs by Arno Rafael Minkkinen. Introduction by Alan Lightman. Essay by A.D. Coleman. Afterword by Arthur Danto.
Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2005. 160 pp., 140 tritone illustrations, 11×12″.
Nearly ten years ago, in the essay for Body Land, Minkkinen wondered how many more photographs he could make. Fifty? One-hundred? And of these, he asked, how many good ones would there be? His response: “[I]f I count the good ones thus far, another ten would be perfect.” Well, by looking at his new monograph, he has exceeded his own expectations. In fact, at least twice that many good photographs have been made since then and published alongside 100 others in Saga: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen. Since 1970, Minkkinen has used self-portraiture to create a harmonious dialogue between the body and its milieu. And by being nude, Minkkinen, as model, exists in a timeless world. With humor and playfulness he conveys an ethereal essence in his images, all of which are created with nothing other than himself, his camera and the environment around him – no double exposure, no multiple negatives, no computer manipulation and no assistant. What you see in the image happened before the lens. Minkkinen can pinch the tip of a Santa Fe mountain, become part of the atmosphere, dwarf vast Southwestern landscapes, rest alongside nature in peace, and transcend his own body. Saga takes as inspiration the Finnish national epic poem, the “Kalevala,” that sees the creation of the world as having occurred through natural forces. Read together, the thematic sections of the book themselves sound like a poem: “from the water,” “of the hands,” “to the north,” “among the women,” “across the desert.” This retrospective of thirty-five years represents Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s thinking about our relationship to the earth, to time, and to each other. His stunning work is beautifully edited and both the trade and limited edition are well designed with poignant essays by Alan Lightman, A.D. Coleman, and Arthur C. Danto. – Larissa Leclair
Originally published in the Photo-eye Booklist, Winter 2005.