The wall installation, some 10 m in length, features photographs of the Gepatschferner. Situated to the south, above the Kaunertal valley, the Gepatschferner is Austria’s second largest glacier and one of the fastest melting. Indeed, over the past ten years, the glacier tongue has shrunk by 700 m. Talschluss [Valley Head] (2020) is comprised of 420 individually mounted photographs, which the artist shot by hand from a single point of view. At first glance, we see a panorama of the glacier region opening up in front of us;but on closer inspection, we find ourselves looking at unsettling perspectives, geometric distortions, duplications, and empty spaces. Unlike classical landscape panoramas with their idealised images of nature, there is no horizon here; the proportions remain unclear, and the ice and rock formations fill the image entirely. The alpine landscape becomes the protagonist, crumbling, melting, altering its appearance. Just as the landscape appears to dissolve due to the ice melt, the panorama, too, is disintegrating. Here the fragility of the ecological interplay is clearly palpable, leaving in its wake a sense of unease and irritation.
Michael Goldgruber, born 1965, lives in Styria.
Mountain glaciers occur all around the world in a wide variety of shapes and sizes, depending on the topography and the climate: from kettle and hanging glaciers a few hundred metres in size to alpine valley glaciers several kilometres long (like the Austrian Gepatschferner with almost 8 km) and the outlet glaciers of Antarctica and Greenland, such as the Lambert Glacier (the world’s largest glacier, with a length of 400 km). Compared with the large continental ice sheets (which account for 98.5 per cent of the global ice volume) and sea ice (0.3 per cent), mountain glaciers with a global extension of some 760,000 km² (0.2 per cent) have a much smaller impact on the global climate. However, their contribution to sea-level rise will be considerable, at up to 16 cm by 2100. The alpine region has been particularly hard hit by global warming, the temperature increase of around 2°C being approximately twice as high as the global average. There are two main reasons for this: firstly, the air over land areas generally warms up more rapidly than the air over oceans; and secondly, the northward shift in the subtropical high-pressure belt is now seen as a potential factor. Within Austria, the temperature increase has been relatively homogeneous, i.e. temperatures have risen already now by more than 2°C compared with pre-industrial levels both at the Sonnblick (at 3,100 m above sea level) and in Vienna. By the middle of this century the temperature is expected to increase by a further 1 to 2°C. For Austria, the global two-degree target could
- Zentralanstalt für Meteorologie und Geodynamik (ZAMG), Gebirgsgletscher: Pasterze und Co im Rückzug.
- Umweltbundesamt GmbH (Hg.), Klimaschutzbericht 2019.
„Ein Landschaftsbild ist immer irgendwie politisch und ein Propagandamittel. Ganz egal, ob es für die Tourismuswirtschaft ist oder um politische Strömungen zu untermauern.“
Michael Goldgruber, artist