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The City Gallery of Bratislava celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2011.
Projection spheres and adventure realms
by Gigliola Foschi
Born and raised in a town surrounded by mountains (Bolzano/Bozen), Walter Niedermayr has been focussing his attention on the Alpine landscape ever since the end of the 80s. Therefore he has been observing the consequences of mass tourism throughout the Alpine region along the time. Desaturated, as well as on- purpose lightened in order to underline their character of artefact, his pictures are, at the very same time, delicate and estranging. They show skiers and tourists who, like tiny coloured figurines, stand out, almost suspended, against the bright immensity of snow and glaciers, among slopes, roads, log-cabins, and wide parkings. Each part of the Alpine landscape is observed from a distance, with discretion and, often, from above. They remind you of the traditional Japanese prints, where you cannot find an unique and precise view point. Moreover the human figures and the architectures always keep the some affable dimensions. These luminescent images make emptiness emerge, as well as develop an unfillable separation and non-communication which seem to be progressing gradually. They show a separation between the natural landscape – under the wear and tear of mass tourism - and people. At the very same time the Niedermayr’s photos show that for him the photographic “glance” acts like an interrogative that explores both the external reality and the very same vision in which recollections and imagination are intertwined. His works, just like constellations, are composed of two or more pictures, one next to the other: so they make up diptychs, triptychs and polyptychs, which prevent the viewers from managing to observe a unique image, definite and self-contained. In each of these “incomplete” and next-to-each-other images, the view-point is modified and slightly shifts so that every perspective certainty is cracked. In the same way the time of the shot is never unitary but is multiplied: it contains some intervals, some differences in the running of time. This double disjunction, of space and time, puts in question the role which is normally given to photography: namely to show reality and to fix it inside the rigid immobility of a precise moment. Ambivalent and plural, his works act as an obstacle to the contemplation of the landscape through one single image. In fact they insert inside the view a precariousness, a movement, a shift that make stagger that very same identity between image and representation, thing which is normally attributed to photography.
In his works the “in-between” is essential, the interval which opens a non-coincidence of space and time inside the polyptychs, That is a coexistence, full of tension, among viewpoints slightly different. In this way images, which are disjoined among themselves but also linked, gather some conflicting aspects that disquiet the viewers and, at the same time, capture him: shatter the certainty of the photographic representation, making the reality shown vibrate. They unite an almost ethereal beauty with a feeling of loss. They dissemble time immobility and multiply it, playing with it. In fact they are both descriptive and built-on, soaked into a vague aura of unreality. This spacing creates his images like uneasy thresholds well as suspended open to the non-visible and non-evident.