"When the photographer Erkki Saikkonen started interacting with his farming landscape in the province of Östergötland he noticed how the surfaces of the ground are in an active state, after all. But it is seldom the farmer that he meets, but rather attributes and traces of human activity.
Erkki started to take photos of what he saw, the everyday motifs that few people bother to document. He felt that there would be a gap between the present time and the days that local photographers depicted well into the 20th century. To him it´s a problem that a majority of photographers would rather turn their cameras toward what is considered beautiful. To him it's important that the images are interesting and have something to say about our time.
Erkki knows what he wants to achieve and follows the farmer's yearly cycle. He looks for moods among the different attributes around the farms and in the landscape. In early Summer it´s the bales of silage, then the bales of straw. At first scattered over the fields, then brought together, stacked like pyramids a few days before a lumber truck comes and haul them off. Finally it´s time for potato crates. Empty and stacked at first, waiting to be filled to the brim with crops and moved to storage houses. What remains is the haulm in the gray November light. All of this is an expression of the farmer's effort to produce food in the beginning of the 21st century.
Erkki is his own employer and since he is relatively alone in documenting what he does, and he rarely bumps into a farmer, it´s not surprising that when he does meet someone they ask him if he is a grant controller from the County Board. These days the farmer belongs to a financially hard pressed group in society who feels downtrodden and unable to influence his own situation. Agricultural politics have become international and is today largely governed by regulations and grants from the European Union.
Even though you never see people in Erkki's photographs, his depiction is indirectly about the situation of the farmers. About times that are sometimes hard. Not only because there is always a Winter approaching, but because of new threats that have surfaced in the wake of climate change. About the shortage of feed because of draught. About the worry about the livestock and the agony of having to buy expensive feed or having to slaughter animals. About the stress that creeps into the soul.
In the end, Erkki's photographic story is about the landscape and the people that are putting food on our tables. Food for all of us who belong to the dominant group of citizens who have been luckily freed from both the worry and the burden of producing our own food."
"A stillness and a tranquility dominate the images in Winter Approaching. A deceptive tranquility? Considering the background, with worried farmers and a risk of unusually poor harvests, you may think so. But the industrious collecting of winter feed, the arranging of bales, has been performed in the same determined and partly traditional manner as in previous times. The tranquility stems from an inescapable acceptance of the unpredictability of these conditions, but it has also seeped in through the way in which Erkki´s mentality has processed the whole situation. His images give me a feeling that nature itself has adapted a more accepting approach to these ”unnatural” objects, often wrapped in plastic.
I´m guessing that a lot of people have a problem imagining that white bales of hay have something to add to a beautiful landscape. In this book Erkki Saikkonen shows that this may in fact be the case. Their presence can apparently have an ability to point out that which is especially attractive in a segment of nature. The wet, muddy road is attributed value in more aspects than just as a construction for transportation. Rolling meadows and unyielding oaks are made plain by the silent presence of the bales. In some of the images you can see how the bales guide the eye towards the cultural landscape, in others how they, with their temporary presence, make us reflect on the intrinsic value of nature, on what it hides and that which often eludes modern man.
Some people don't want to regard nature as ”inspired”, but many do, more or less. That approach used to be the dominant one. And this was probably necessary in order to feel affinity to and respect for nature. The images of Erkki Saikkonen constitute a straightforward, in many ways affirmative and balanced aesthetizising comment on that issue."
- ISBN 13
- NevaBooks Publishing
- Signed Copy
- Date Published
- 24.5 x 18.5 cm
- Binding Additional
- Swiss binding
- No. of Pages
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