SALZBURG.- Two Mountains is an artistic project which the two photographers, Balthasar Burkhard from Switzerland (born 1944) and Naoya Hatakeyama from Japan (born 1958), were invited to join. Each examined the mountain world of the others respective homeland, thus linking up the criteria for viewing landscape with the individual photographic language of imagery used by each artist.
The two bodies of work were presented in Tokyo in 2006, whereby one exhibition followed the other; the MdM Salzburg now presents them simultaneously, directly juxtaposing them. The dialogue-based character and the subjective independent nature of their photographic viewpoints can thus be perceived in comparison.
Balthasar Burkhard is the doyen of Swiss contemporary photography, internationally renowned for his imposing urban portraits, the subtle black
& white portrayals of nature and vegetation. He had been to Japan before, and now selected for the project two very contemplative mountain situations: Kumano and Mt. Koya. A key feature of both locations is that they are perceived not so much as mountains per se, but rather in terms of their significance as holy places, within the context of a close-to-nature, Far Eastern religiosity.
Naoya Hatakeyama was in Switzerland for the first time, directing his interest to the monumental massifs of the Bern Alps. Taking a critical, distanced view, he observes the conquest of the mountain world by tourism and alpine climbing, the directed view of the mountains provided by viewing terraces and panorama platforms, as well as the processing of the motifs in the museums installation.
The juxtaposing of these two views is shaped by each artists interaction with his own past and his approach to the unfamiliar. The formidable achievements and challenges of alpine climbing are counterposed with ancestors resting places in the sacred groves. It seems to be the prerogative of the traveller from abroad to capture what is unfamiliar to him in a symptomatic language.
Salzburgs environment is also a mountain landscape. The romanticism of untouched nature, of folklore and the search for spirituality is at odds with the necessity for new concepts of use for business and tourism.
Particularly in Salzburg, the Two Mountains exhibition can contribute, not just to counterposing two varying ways of looking at different mountain worlds and drawing them into a controversial dialogue; the exhibition also offers the possibility for visitors to take stock of their own mountain world, having two differing perceptions as points of reference.