Glaciers are mighty, bright ice caves, which spread majestically along valleys. Everyone is familiar with this picture, which is shown by the traditional landscape painting and the tourism industry. In his latest project, Georg Aerni senses the forms and form-forming processes of the Alpine glaciers and presents a morphology of the mountain world far from any ideals and stereotypes. With as objective means as possible, the artist creates a closeness to the intangible distance and lets us experience new alpine landscapes.
The exhibition title refers to the disappearance of the glaciers and incorporates this into the history of the earth. The Holocene encompasses the epoch since the climate warming about 12'000 years ago. Global warming is not new. In the past 30 years, however, it has increased significantly.
Georg Aerni’s photographs do not document the shrinkage of the Alpine glaciers, nor the artist wants to provide a picture comparison between then and now. Instead, he makes a contribution to the discourse on climate warming in a transposed sense. In fact, he places the glaciers, which in the idealistic representation appear as sublime natural yet unattainable powers, for us in immediate proximity.
Aerni does not show any powerful ice current, which slides in valley and through its imposing appearance define our image for the spectacular mountain-world. On the contrary, the ice masses in his pictures are amorphous and are covered with foldings, cracks, layers and fractures just like the rocks in the immediate surroundings.
The mountain relief determines the form or “unform” of the glaciers. Often several ice lances are formed, that “flow” through narrow outlets. The ice is mostly filthy, temporarily covered by pitch black debris. Aerni’s images reveal certain basic patterns. A glacier typology based on characteristic features is not of interest here. The artist’s attention is focused on the various textures and subtly nuanced color sequences, which appear in the almost monochrome materials.
This focus combines the recent work with Aerni’s earlier cycles on rock formations in Hong Kong and with his depictions of European zoological gardens. Like these, the photographs of the glaciers are not mere images; in fact, they open up an image-space that allows us to immerse ourselves in the structural nature of surfaces. And again, the factual representation does not end in the demonstration of form-building processes. Aerni, on the contrary, is an approximation to phenomena which are more alien than familiar to us. In this way, his landscapes always convey the effect of something unusual.