For the 11th time the Kunsthalle receives an award-winning work of art as a donation from the Baloise Group. The presentation of this prize is an occasion to dedicate an exhibition to the Belgian artist Geert Goiris. "Traumatic realism" is the term he uses to describe his carefully composed photographs, which are produced without digital manipulation. Like the slide series Whiteout, his other photographic works avoid pathos and sentimentality yet make empathetic reference to the fragility of our environment and our living conditions.
On 5 May 2010, the Swiss insurance company Baloise Group will present Geert Goiris' slide
projection Whiteout to the Hamburger Kunsthalle. The Belgian artist is one of two recipients of
the 11th Baloise Art Prize awarded by the Basel-based company in 2009. Since 1999, the Baloise Group has awarded an annual prize to two outstanding young artists participating in the
Art Statements sector of the international art fair Art Basel. The awards of CHF 30,000 to
each of the prize-winning artists are made by a jury of international experts. In consultation with
the jury, the Baloise Group also acquires a selection of works by both recipients, which are
subsequently donated to two important European museums. In 2009 the jury chose the Swedish artist Nina Canell, whose work is being donated to the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung
Ludwig (MUMOK) in Vienna, and the Belgian photographer Geert Goiris, whose slide projection Whiteout is going on show at the Galerie der Gegenwart. To mark the occasion, the Hamburger Kunsthalle is mounting a special exhibition of Goiris' work.
Geert Goiris (*1971 in Bornem, lives and works in Antwerp) photographed the images for Whiteout during two expeditions to Antarctica in December/January 2007/08 and 2008/09. The work explores the fascinating and dangerous meteorological phenomenon of a whiteout: when cold air becomes saturated with ice crystals, visibility and contrast are severely reduced and the horizon disappears. This can cause disorientation, dizziness, vertigo and a loss of spatial awareness. In the slide installation, Goiris' black-and-white and colour views of the arctic landscape alternate with colour images of everyday objects, containers, ships or residents of the polar research station which help the viewer regain a sense of spatial orientation. While at a cursory glance Goiris' images may recall reportage or documentary photography, they have a distinct poetic quality that arises from the striking juxtaposition of exterior shots of the natural spectacle in the boundless arctic desert and close-up interior views of the Belgian research station Princess Elisabeth.
In addition to Whiteout, the exhibition at the Hamburger Kunsthalle features recent photographs by Geert Goiris. On his journeys through remote regions on the very edge of civilisation, the artist captures surreal, melancholic and subtly uncanny situations that evoke a 'borderline' experience in both senses of the word. The ambiguous complexity of his subject matter can create the impression of a hallucination or even cause memory disturbance in those who view the work. "Traumatic realism" is the term Goiris uses to describe his carefully composed photographs, which are produced without digital manipulation. Like the slide series Whiteout, his other photographic works avoid pathos and sentimentality yet make empathetic reference to the fragility of our environment and our living conditions.
The exhibition is supported by the Baloise Group and the Flemish Government.
The members of the jury for the Baloise Art Prize 2009 were Philipp Kaiser, curator at MOCA Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Edelbert Köb, director of the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna; Sabrina van der Ley, curator of the Galerie der Gegenwart at the Hamburger Kunsthalle; Walter Vanhaerents of VanhaerentsArtCollection, Brussels; Martin Schwander, external art advisor to the Baloise Group and chairman of the jury.
More information on Geert Goiris is available at http://www.geertgoiris.info
Image: Whiteout 2008/09 – The Meeting Photograph of the multipart slide projection
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On 5 May 2010 Presentation of the 11th Baloise Art Prize at the Hamburger Kunsthalle: Whiteout by Geert Goiris
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