Photo Essays

Images at the End of the Frozen World

by Hrag Vartanian on January 22, 2014

Detail of the left panel of Frank Thiel's "Perito Moreno #01" (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas in 5 parts, framed (overall): 118 1/8 x 348 3/8 x 2 3/8 inches (300 x 885 x 6 cm) (image © Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Detail of the left panel of Frank Thiel’s “Perito Moreno #01″ (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas in 5 parts, framed (overall): 118 1/8 x 348 3/8 x 2 3/8 inches (300 x 885 x 6 cm) (image © Frank Thiel / VG Bild Kunst, Bonn Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

As the northeast of the United States has been submerged into a deep freeze, it seems appropriate to circulate these chilling images poised to go on view at the Sean Kelly Gallery next week.

Known for his images of Berlin’s transformation into a postindustrial global capital, Frank Thiel’s latest series of photographs captures the majesty of glacial ice formations in Argentina’s southern Patagonia region.

Slated to open on Friday, January 31, the exhibition is titled Nowhere Is a Place and will feature the artist’s largest work to date, a 29-foot-long (8.9 meter), five-panel photograph of the Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, which is part of the third largest ice cap in the world.

The Perito Moreno glacier is a major tourist attraction at the tip of South America and one of only three of the area’s 48 glaciers that are growing. The Perito Moreno glacier towers 240 feet (74 meters) above the surface of the water of Lake Argentino, but it has a total ice depth of 558 feet (170 meters). To capture this massive scale, Thiel has created prints approaching 10 feet high (3 meters).

Frank Thiel's "Perito Moreno #01" (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas in 5 parts, framed (overall): 118 1/8 x 348 3/8 x 2 3/8 inches (300 x 885 x 6 cm) (image © Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel’s “Perito Moreno #01″ (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas in 5 parts, framed (overall): 118 1/8 x 348 3/8 x 2 3/8 inches (300 x 885 x 6 cm) (image © Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn
Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

There’s a melancholy beauty in these images — they record a largely unseen edge of our planet, one which will certainly be impacted by the looming environmental devastation that we are constantly hearing about from scientists the world over. Yet, here, at the edge of this glacier, the ice takes on the spiritual loftiness of cathedrals jutting into the sky.

While some people are eager to run away from the cold, into warm climes, I have to say I’ve always had a particularly soft spot for wintery landscapes and their ability to temporarily transform the world so completely. Here, in the permanent freeze of the glacier, there’s a stillness and quiet monotony you often see in desert images. The world feels timeless.

Frank Thiel, "Perito Moreno #17" (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas  framed: 84 1/8 x 64 7/8 x 2 1/8 inches (213.7 x 164.7 x 5.5 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel, “Perito Moreno #17″ (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas, framed: 84 1/8 x 64 7/8 x 2 1/8 inches (213.7 x 164.7 x 5.5 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel, "Perito Moreno #16" (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas  framed: 64 5/8 x 119 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches (164.2 x 303.7 x 6 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel, “Perito Moreno #16″ (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas, framed: 64 5/8 x 119 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches (164.2 x 303.7 x 6 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel, "Perito Moreno #11" (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas, framed: 88 x 72 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches (223.7 x 183.7 x 5.5 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel, “Perito Moreno #11″ (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas, framed: 88 x 72 3/8 x 2 1/8 inches (223.7 x 183.7 x 5.5 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel, "Piedras Blancas" (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas, framed: 72 1/2 x 126 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches (184.2 x 321.2 x 6 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel, “Piedras Blancas” (2012/2013), framed chromogenic print face mounted to Plexiglas, framed: 72 1/2 x 126 1/2 x 2 3/8 inches (184.2 x 321.2 x 6 cm) (© Frank Thiel / VG Bild-Kunst, Bonn, Courtesy: Sean Kelly, New York)

Frank Thiel’s Nowhere Is the Place opens at the Sean Kelly Gallery (475 Tenth Avenue, Chelsea, Manhattan).

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  • Alex V

    Permafrost != glaciers

    • http://hragv.com/ Hrag Vartanian

      I misused the word so I changed the word to permanent freeze. #ugh

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