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.