Arno Rafael Minkkinen. Retrospective

25.03 – 25.05. 2014

Over the past four decades, Minkkinen has been engaged as a teacher, curator, and writer while continuing to devote his photographic energies exclusively to the self-portraits. Seamlessly entering natural and urban scenes, he creates photographs that can be perceived as a montage or computer manipulated images. His interaction with nature is akin to mimicry – Minkkinen becomes a native element of the environment, merging with it, extending and drawing perspectives and lines. Finland, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, China, and the American West have been his favorite hunting grounds.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen. 10.10.10. Fosters Pond

For Arno Rafael Minkkinen, nudity is akin to spirituality. “I don’t want to be seen as a nudist,” he says, “but there is something about how close you get to the act of creation by walking around by yourself in some stretch of forest in Finland, with nothing on, looking for a photograph, climbing rocks and moving around like a monkey. Bared assed and just digging your toes into the soft earth, you really feel like you’ve been created.” Over the past forty years that sense of freedom has compelled him to photograph himself in a variety of scenarios: sometimes curled up on a sandy beach, other times dangling off the edge of a cliff, always naked as the day he was born. The sites change constantly, but Minkkinen routinely becomes part of the landscape, connecting body and nature in the most surreal ways.

Over one hundred solo exhibitions and nearly two hundred group shows have been shown around the world. Minkkinen’s work can be found in the collections around the world, such as; the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, the Centre Pompidou, the Musée d’Art Moderne, and the Maison Europenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Japan, and many others.

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Professor of Art at UMass Lowell and Docent at Helsinki’s Aalto University, was awarded the Order of the Lion First Class Medal by the Finnish government in 1992 and the Finnish State Art Prize in Photography in 2006 and Lucie Award in 2013. He currently serves on the National Board of the Society for Photographic Education and is chair of the publications committee and its journal Exposure.

Seven monographs on his work have been published: Frostbite (1978), Waterline (1994, winner of the 25th Rencontres d’Arles Book Prize), Body Land (1999), SAGA: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen, 35 Years of Photographs (2005), Homework: The Finnish Photographs (2008), Swimming in the Air (2009), and Balanced Equation (2010).