this issue contains
>> Immaculate White: Art and Winter
>> True North: Isaac Julien
>> Frozen Sculptures: Marc Quinn
>> Felt and Fat: Joseph Beuys

>> archive

 


Stephan Huber: Shining, 2001,
Deutsche Bank Collection


Then, the viewer notices that something must be wrong with the picture: the entire arrangement turns out, in reality, to be completely artificial. Huber does in fact play with primordial human fears, only to elegantly sidestep them with a wink of an eye. It's not a portrayal of reality after all, but only a model the artist set up in his studio at home. The terror that initially overcomes the viewer amounts to nothing more than a deception at the hands of something that's not even particularly refined. Thus, Huber chiefly confronts us with ourselves - and our willingness to construct, in a kind a reflex, a horrible "truth" out of a few initial optical signals.

The irony that Huber brings to bear points in a direction that has received too little attention in the midst of all the sublime earnestness discussed previously. Winter is the time of drama, harsh contrasts, and the greatest distress, but that doesn't mean there's no room for humor. The photographer Walter Niedermayr is an artist who wants his pictures to point to the shaky equilibrium between nature and civilization and "make simple things visible."


Walter Niedermayr, from the series: Momentary Resorts,
VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn


Yet it's also true that when one takes a closer look at his works and sees these tiny human dots fearlessly gliding through the fog, bundled up warmly and riding back up the slope on ski lifts or wandering in and out between frighteningly deep fissures in glaciers, then one can't suppress a small, wry smile.

Thus, Niedermayr inspires a wide array of reactions: awe and pleasure, respect, amusement, and wordless astonishment. Niedermayr knows that he has a lot to thank the mountains for. But he's also given them something back, something they already seemed in danger of losing: their dignity.


Translation: Andrea Scrima


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