Pentti Sammallahti

"Here Far Away"

"Here far away is a retrospective work that comprises nearly fifty years of photographic activity and unfolds in almost as many coutries. Pentti Sammallahti's discrete title points to the paradox that the photograph always represents a here-and-now: an encounter in the exhibition or on the page of the book betweenartist and viewer, which is of course subject to the law of mutability, but constantly reflects the capacity of the two to enter into a dialogue, to extend the picture's mirror of the past into the viewer's present and future. And in this respect Pentti Sammallahti's work is ensured a long life, because with his photographic images he steps outside time and instead grapples with great mysteries that existence offers the curious: love, death, spirituality, nature -- key existential concepts that he would hardly allow to pass his own lips, but would instead be all the more willing to show. This modesty flows as an underlying current through all of his work, but only makes sense if it is viewed together with the obligation to hold forth the wondrous for us to see: the magnificent landscapes, the diverse multitude of animals, the struggling people, the fragile earth. Not least the last theme -- that God's great apparatus could collapse -- is one of that his retrospective book still sees to be revolving around. Insistently, but without pathos...


The opening of the book puts us right into the myth. A moist globe leads us across the water table. powerful nature shots follow, where the elements  -- earth, wind and air -- engage in a universal wrestling match for advantage and balance. The ice desert freezes all life, the planet seems stony and uninhabitable until a toad breaks the calm surface of the water. And suddenly the animals are all there, an abundance of seabirds swarming over the rocks and seals struggle in tens of thousands for a place to suvive and procreate. With camels in endless rows and a woolly landscape of sheep breaks, the domesticated animals get a chance of living in an almost pastoral idyll,  reaching its climax when birds en masse, wohooper swans, tufted ducks and mallards set out by God for a trial voyage in the still brooding darkness, separate nicely into their own categories as if governed by a new world order. And the section is cyclically and naturally rounded when returning into the mist, the birds and the wet elements. " (Exerpt from introduction by Finn Thrane).


Sammallahti is recognized as a master craftsman both in terms of the photographic print and also in mechanical printing methods, and he has been a major influence on published photographic art. He has had an enormous influence on a generation of photographers in Scandinavia and, since 1979, has published thirteen books and portfolios and received innumerable awards.



Dewi Lewis Publishing, First Edition 2012. Hardcover, 256 pages.

1st Edition - $500