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On the occasion of the exhibition Arno Rafael Minkkinen: Fifty Years at the Edwynn Houk Gallery in New York, Blind takes a closer look at one image by the Finnish photographer whose work obsessively stages his nude body in nature.

There is a messianic aspect to Arno Rafael Minkkinen’s photography: we see him suspended in mid-air, tiptoeing on the surface of water, or yet balancing on one leg on the bend of a tree, and we find it hard to believe these images are the work of a single man. And yet, for fifty years, Minkkinen has been working alone, aided only by a self-timer, and avoiding any digital interference.

Fosters Pond, 2000 © Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Courtesy of Edwynn Houk Gallery

Made in 2000, Fosters Pond is no exception in the photographer’s practice, exemplifying the originality of his work. Oscillating between the absurdity of a stereotype and the poetry of a metaphor, this portrait of a human hand sheds light on the performative dimension of Minkkinen’s work as well as the connection between man and nature. While technical prowess serves to defy the tranquility of the water and bring forth the hand and its reflection, the photograph is no less fascinating in terms of the maze of suggested meanings.

Emerging from the elements, the hand embraces the stretch of water and, quite literally, becomes one with its environment. The connection to nature, patiently forged anew by the photographer, is revealed through the resulting osmosis which adds to the perfection of the image. The portrait of the hand takes us from one image to the next, with the hand “writing” on this unconventional surface. We might also read this as a symbol of the human trace in the environment, whether it is a creative act (such as writing or photography), which is also a mirror reflection of the creator. Is a portrait thus always a self-portrait? Nothing could be less certain, but while the hand brings the artist back to his own gesture, it also makes him face his own limits—the very limits that Minkkinen systematically seeks to overcome.

By Anne Laurens

Arno Rafael Minkkinen: Fifty Years

January 4 to February 8, 2020

Edwynn Houk Gallery, 745 5th Ave #407, New York, Etats-Unis

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