Critics’ Picks

Grande Motte I, 1997.

Grande Motte I, 1997.

Zurich

Walter Niedermayr

Galerie Bob van Orsouw
Limmatstrasse 270
January 24–March 13, 2004

The photographer Walter Niedermayr traverses mountain ranges from Japan to Europe to the North Pole, homing in on signs of human intervention. He photographs cable-car stations thronged with snow bunnies, antlike convoys of uniformed ski students, and mountains of detritus piled under lifts. This exhibition of photos from the last seven years includes the new four-part sequence Jökulsarlon, 2003, a near-monumental work that tracks a boat’s progress across an Icelandic lake. It’s deliberately overexposed, so that the people on board are reduced to the tiny red dots of their life jackets; their bodies seem to fade into the blue, white, and silver vista that surrounds them. This is surely one of the more alarmingly surreal depictions of a pleasure cruise in memory. As Jökulsarlon and the other works here attest, Niedermayr is less interested in the sublime than in bringing a unique visual sensibility to bear on the aesthetic travesties carried out in the name of tourism.

Translated from German by Emily Speers Mears.