Over the past four decades, Arno Rafael Minkkinen has been engaged as a teacher, curator, and writer while continuing to devote his photographic energies exclusively to stunning self-portraits.
The inherent sense of freedom compels 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.
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.”
The sites change constantly, but Minkkinen routinely becomes part of the landscape, connecting body and nature in the most surreal ways. His interaction with nature is close to mimicry — Minkkinen becomes a native element of the environment, merging with it, extending and drawing perspectives and lines.
Over one hundred solo exhibitions and nearly two hundred group shows around the world stand to the photographer’s credit. His works can be found in the collections of 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 Européenne de la Photographie in Paris, the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne, the Center for Creative Photography in Tucson, and the Tokyo Photographic Art in Japan.
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, the Finnish State Art Prize in Photography in 2006, and the prestigious American Lucie Award honouring achievements in photography in 2013. Minkkinen serves on the National Board of the Society for Photographic Education and is chair of the publication committee and its journal Exposure.
Finland, Norway, Sweden, France, Italy, China, and the American West have been the photographer's favourite hunting grounds. The exhibition hosted by Erarta Museum will show Minkkinen in each of these spots on the globe, ever changing, always revelatory.