Author: Beatrice Antonie Martino

Sweet Song of Harlem

By Carley Townsend and Beatrice Antonie Martino

Finnish photographer Jaakko Heikkilä doesn’t travel – he stays. Sometimes, he lingers long enough that you’ll fall asleep to the low hypnotic hum of the camera. At least, that’s what happened when Heikkilä photographed Jill, normally lively and hyperactive, suddenly still, quiet, untroubled. With a panoramic camera in hand, each shot takes a full minute, if not more, to develop, imposing a necessary stillness on each moment – a collection of fleeting eternities. Coaxed by a rhythmic repetition of “Lie down” – Click – “Rest your eyes” – buzz – “be still”– silence, Jill turns posing into repose. Heikkilä elicits a sense of magic as focus dances from detail to detail. Time stops, and the stillness deepens the relationship between viewer and subject. 

Jill in Her Living Room, 2003

I have been sitting a lot in kitchens with people, when nothing happens. Total silence. I like to meet people in that silence. It is more intensive, more intimate. I can come closer when nothing else is happening around. That sense of silence, that sense of slowness, it is the same as the photograph. The panoramic lens is rolling like that, silent, slowly. One image taking one minute.

We live in a world where everything is always moving, moving, moving. Everyone is racing to be better than the next. In a society where life is all about motion and distraction, silence and emptiness are revolutionary, radical acts. What does it mean to simply be

Heikkilä has mastered the act of radical stillness, connecting to the inherent beauty, integrity, and inner magic of the other – sitting opposite his camera lens. The subjects of Heikkilä’s photographs live whole and multifaceted lives with or without us – we are simply invited to linger … Click here to read more

“Ken Cro-Ken: The Conduct of Paint”

Art and Nature: A Collaboration

Image courtesy of WhiteBox Harlem

It is late one night, and you are out in nature, far away from the city, with your eye pressed up to the lens of a telescope. Distant planets and galaxies appear to be within the reach of your arm. But what would it look like, if the vastness of the universe were encapsulated in the palm of your hand? The answer lies in Ken Cro-Ken’s macro/micro paintings. These mini paintings, which are no larger than the palm of your hand, are nestled within larger paintings, offering alternative perspectives of the same slice of the multiverse. In his own words: “It is for the viewer to determine whether it is a microscope zooming-in for a closer look or a telescope that reveals the greater body from a distance. Which painting is the macro and which is the micro?” Cro-Ken’s playful relationship with the macro and micro forces of Nature is evident in all of his work – whether painting, sculpture, or video. 

The work of Ken Cro-Ken, self-ascribed ecosystem painter and environmentalist videographer, is currently on view at PS109 El Barrio’s Artspace in New York City, presented by WhiteBox in collaboration with 2B&2C. The one-man show, entitled Ken Cro-Ken: The Conduct of Paint invites the viewer into conversation with Nature, through exuberant improvisational paintings that simultaneously capture the great expanse of the universe and the delicate intricacies of time in motion. 

Working at the intersection of the microscopic and macroscopic, Cro-Ken considered himself a conduit for Nature’s expressivity, co-creating in concert with seasonal and elemental forces. Cro-Ken used chemical catalysts – what he called “Speed Elements” – to set his paintings in motion, and to reveal the invisible “push-pull” forces of Nature. These durational paint experiments were conducted in a … Click here to read more