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Pentti Sammallahti: –Here Far Away

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By collecting images from across the world, all marked with the same tender poetry, Pentti Sammallahti has produced a universal fable wherein animals embody the conditions of human existence. They are the actors of a variety of emotions and timeless situations accentuated by shapes. In Helsinki, a lazy dog stretching its legs mirrors the shape of a leaning tree that’s only saved from falling by two supports. Another dog digs curiously at the foot of a tree whose patterns match its fur. Elsewhere, two magpies are perched in perfect symmetry on a tree branch somehow balanced parallel to the ground. Two other birds, sentries of unknown world, stand with their tails straight out on an immaculate white path whose clean lines contrast with their ruffled and dark feathers. These photographs are like anecdotes. Then come the images-tales, like these two ducks, their necks tucked into their wings, sitting on a small ice floe off the coast of the town barely visible through the fog. The transient block of ice detached from the frozen shore drifts somewhere else, taking the two survivors in its cast. When men appear in the photographer’s work, they’re understated. They are silhouettes symbolizing an expression: the love of entwined bodies, the effort of the bent back. The photographs alternate between humor and melancholy. Facing a windmill, a Swedish horse sees nothing beyond the stone wall before him. He is as dedicated to working the land as his owner, who stands on the other side of the structure, also on all fours.

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