Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a Finnish photographer who has lived and worked in the United States for the better part of 45 years. His work explores an uncanny juxtaposition between the human body and landscapes, where body parts function as integral parts of trees, rivers, skylines, and rock formations. Many of his photos require extreme physical risk, dangling his body from cliffs, holding his breath underwater, or at times facing his greatest psychological fears. One of his more incredible photos he shot while in school at RISD in the 1970s. It shows him leaping, nude, off a snow-covered hill toward an icy, flowing river. At the precise moment the shutter clicked he managed to contort and conceal his entire upper body behind his right leg and buttock creating what anyone today would assume is a photoshopped image. A barren, torsoless leg sticking out of the winter snow.
Nearly a year ago it struck me that I needed to write a post about him for Colossal, and on his one-page website I discovered a teaser for an upcoming redesign. So I waited. And waited. And at long last the new site is up and I was thrilled to discover Minkkinen has published dozens of his photographs organized into 10 portfolios, practically his life’s work. He also has a lovely 12-step introduction entitled How to Work the Way I Work, that details the methods he uses in his art. My favorite:
10. ACCEPT FAILURE.
Artists who believe they control everything control what they know. Artists who allow outside forces to intervene are like canoes going down rapids. The rocks are there. If you fight them, you fly off the bow. If you allow the current to take you, you can pass through swimmingly. It is a rare gift at every bend.
Minkkinen currently has a solo show at Infocus Gallery in Köln, Germany through October 30.