Arno Rafael Minkkinen (born June 4, 1945 in Helsinki, Finland) is a Finnish-American photographer. His work, recognized throughout the world, is entirely devoted to the self-portrait, with a militant commitment to a better place for man in nature. The one he assigns to himself is often discreet, melted, evocative of this lost Eden in which humanity began its ontological adventure. Inhabiting the world, his world, as a poet, Minkkinen considers his intervention in the landscape as a natural extension of his body, thus quoting the part from the whole. This tautology leads to the discovery of how this human body, his own, fits perfectly into the nature of which he is a part, but also dependent. The artist does not hesitate, indeed, to put himself in danger, to push back the limits of the possible and the tolerable by a strong bodily constraint bound to practices of breathing, contortion, resistance to the cold and to the heat, this ascetic posture, close to that of the fakir, going even sometimes until the disappearance. It is always alone that the artist photographs himself by means of a shutter release, without later retouching, nor external intervention.
Art being an imitation of nature, there is a real mise en abyme in Minkkinen’s work: the photographer melts, lurks, even disappears in the heart of this artist nature, giving an account, as an artist too, of their respective immense talent. The artist is thus also a work of nature, whose mirror he holds up to us, to exist within it. Great perspective, therefore, that this scenography of Minkkinen within his own work, of which he is both the creator and the creature.
Exhibited worldwide, Minkkinen’s work is in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, the Center for Creative Photography in Arizona, the Finnish Museum of Photography, and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, among others. His work has been the subject of dozens of publications, both monographic and non-monographic, and has received unanimous critical acclaim. A 2015 Guggenheim Fellowship recipient, Minkkinen has taught photography at the University of Lowell (Massachusetts), as well as at the Aalto College of Art, Design and Architecture in Helsinki.