JAAKKO HEIKKILÄPhotographs 26.5.2012 – 17.6.2012
Tucked away in the furthest back room of the fifth floor of the Museum of Modern Art in New York are two Water Lilies paintings by Claude Monet.
People pass in front of the paintings. Standing. Meditating. Palms rest against cheeks. Index fingers brush the corners of eyes. I step in front of the wider painting, whistling, raising my feet casually so that it doesn´t appear as if I´m measuring. The painting is the width of about ten slightly longer than normal steps.
I´ve sat with the paintings on numerous occasions, over many years, altogether for hours. During that time, I could have read a thick novel. I last sat in the room this February.
I do not wonder at all at the artist's depth, subtlety or mastery. These aspects are also emphasised by the museum's guides, who walk crowds of people in front of the paintings. I realise that I feel good there, looking and sitting. A gentle light is reflected on the water´s surface, a depth behind the light, visible and invisible, coming close and reaching out to infinity.
Jaakko Heikkilä (b. 1956) is known as a photographer of people living in the shadow of the dominant culture. He has photographed various national minorities and their cultural identity, such as the Armenian diaspora and the Serbian Vlachs. In these works, he has gone close to the people. As a counterbalance to encounters with people, he always gravitates to water, often to the seashore. He has previously dedicated his exhibitions to, among other themes, the canals of Venice and coastal landscapes around the world. Heikkilä has received, among other awards, the Finnish State Prize for Photography in 2007. Last year, he had an extensive retrospective at the Finnish Museum of Photography in Helsinki.