20x200 and Stuart Klipper: Both Cool as Ice
Online for Everyone- | Jan 6 2013 | (22:48:58 - EST)
Some photographers stay at home; they make beauty out of dusty ornaments and memories, crystallizing insular moments. But Stuart Klipper is no homebody. He’s an intrepid artist who has photographed panoramas from the North to the South Pole and all across America.
An explorer to the core, he has crossed Antarctica six times over two decades, pulled ever back to the cold continent by its otherworldliness. “Being present there approximates, in essence, being apart from the planet itself, being a part of the firmament,” Klipper has said of Antarctica.
Klipper captures the enigma of this austere realm in all his Antarctica images—he’s hung out with the penguins!—and today’s are as serene and potent as photography gets. Both Sunset, Amundsen Sea, Southern Ocean, Antarctica, 2000 and Grounded Iceberg, Arthur Harbor, Anvers Island, Antarctica cause a gasp, a somersault in the belly. The images are tactile, almost alive; they take flight.
Klipper’s lens draws us close while sweeping across vast patches of a land that he says “has more in common with the alien surfaces of other planets and moons than it does with the surrounds it shares on its home orb.” Light is an essential feature of Klipper’s work: He uses his Linhof Technorama—a late-’70s wonder that takes film and therefore keeps Klipper among the party of old-school photographers—to “grab the world” and let it grab us.
“Photography is not about photography,” he has said. “It’s about the world.”
On the 20x200 website, Stuart Klipper says:
“My photography has addressed both the manifold qualities of the places in our world and the myriad ways we experience our placement in it. I’ve covered a lot of territory in my travels, but of all the places I have directly experienced, Antarctica stands foremost as the single—and signal—place towards which my soul has been most insistently driven. When there, smack in its midst, I am where (to paraphrase my friend Barry Lopez) my soul feels most “right.”
Those of us who feel the pull of the Poles are fired by fierce and inexplicable passions. For my part, it has been when I’m on the Ice that I know I have felt the loom of epiphany; that I’ve gained my most intense awareness of the numinous. Here, above all else, clarity and transcendence prevail. On this harsh, austere and primordial continent, the compass of my embrace becomes its broadest. Here, in this uttermost place, awash in its wonder, I have, unfathomably, found a subsuming sense of grace. The work I do there takes on the cast of a mission, a mission suffused with ardor and awe.
By my lights, all of that which can be experienced in the Antarctic can be infused with an innate, primal and subsuming metaphysical presence—to its very core it bears a charge of the sacral. It is an otherworldly place, the edge of the Earth—its farthest horizon. Being present there approximates, in essence, being apart from the planet itself, being a part of the firmament.
Aside from our Earth’s oxygen, Antarctica holds more in common with the alien surfaces of other planets and moons than it does with the surrounds it shares on its home orb. It is a daunting, distinct and distant realm that hovers nebulously at the far asymptote of all human ken; a sublime and uncertain, ethereal and empyrean world—a world unto its own, a world fraught with awe and immanence. It harbors glories known nowhere else. Its beauty is inchoate and elusive; its truth is elemental and ever enigmatic.”
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