Saga: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen

A. D. Coleman, Editor, Todd Brandow, Editor, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Photographer
A. D. Coleman, Editor, Todd Brandow, Editor, Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Photographer . Chronicle $50 (167p) ISBN 978-0-8118-5146-6
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A self-described "trickster," since 1970 Finnish-American photographer Minkkinen has created images that whimsically explore the relationship between his naked body and nature. Many of his photographs deliberately deceive, making it appear as if his hands and feet are walking across water, say, or his arm extends the length of a canyon. The photographs gathered in this retrospective are organized around The Kalevala , Finland's national epic poem. In them, Minkkinen bends his body around trees, buries himself in snow and bends a knee to match the curve of a rock formation. There is an undeniable grace to the way Minkkinen uses his body to mimic nature—his images are often startling and at times beautiful. There is also, however, a lack of variety; the images taken in 1973 look much like the ones taken in 1999, and the thematic organization of the book makes it all the more difficult to trace any development in his style or technique. The book's essays—by noted art critics Arthur Danto and A.D. Coleman and novelist Alan Lightman—are eloquent, intelligent and well written. However, like Minkkinen's photographs, they try too hard to reposition the self-portrait as a running, whimsical dialogue with the physical world. (Nov.)

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