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Arno Minkkinen: Naked, Cold, and On Camera

Photographer of body and landscape speaks at Photonics Center tonight

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Acclaimed photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen is known for mesmerizing black-and-white images that incorporate his body — often impossibly posed — into the natural landscape. The Finnish-born artist and longtime Massachusetts resident will discuss his 35-year continent-spanning career this evening at the Photonics Center auditorium as part of the Photographic Resource Center (PRC) at Boston University’s Polaroid Spotlight Lecture Series. It is Minkinnen’s first public lecture in Boston.

Minkkinen — without the aid of digital manipulation, double exposures, or assistants — manages to capture the surprising parallels between the physical landscape and the landscape of the human body.

“I consider myself a documentary photographer who makes the document happen, but sticks to the truth of what I’m given,” Minkkinen says. “If it’s cold out and if there’s snow and I’m under the snow, I’m under the snow. Or if I’m leaning off of a canyon or a cliff, I’m actually tied by ropes to my wrists.”

But don’t expect Minkkinen to spill all the secrets of his startling images.

“I’ll probably reveal one or two, not too many,” he says. “I’ve learned not to give away the magic if that’s what’s there. But occasionally, it’s important to at least describe what’s going on so the viewer can say, ‘OK, that’s plausible.’”

Minkkinen’s photography and writing have been collected, exhibited, and published worldwide. A midcareer retrospective of his work, SAGA: The Journey of Arno Rafael Minkkinen, Thirty-Five Years of Photographs, premiered at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Mass., in 2005 and has since traveled to venues around the world, including the Bucharest Museum of Contemporary Art, the Lianzhou International Photography Festival in China, and the Salo Art Museum in Finland. Minkkinen is a professor of art and head of the photography program at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Tonight’s presentation, titled Arno Rafael Minkkinen: Unplugged, As Always, will include hand-picked music and marks the first in the Polaroid Spotlight Lecture Series, planned for once a semester.

“Arno has been an incredibly consequential part of the photographic community,” says Michael Christiano, education manager at the PRC. “He’s an extremely devoted educator of photography.”

The lecture starts at 7 p.m. tonight, February 28, at the Photonics Center auditorium, 8 St. Mary’s St. Tickets are $15 for the general public, $10 for PRC members, $5 for full-time non-BU students, and free for institutional members, including BU students. For more information, visit online, e-mail prc@bu.edu, or call 617-975-0600.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu.

1 Comments

One Comment on Arno Minkkinen: Naked, Cold, and On Camera

  • K. Monroe on 03.04.2008 at 2:30 pm

    This man’s photography is amazing I watched a PBS documentary that featured him, what a great lecture to have to miss while studying abroad in London, Enjoy! Wish I was there.

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