artist’s vision: guri dahl
I’ve just returned from a vacation out at sea, sailing around the Caribbean on a big ship, the Celebrity Eclipse. And while high art is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks about sailing on the high seas, I’m here to report that times have changed; on the Eclipse, there’s a highly curated, high art experience for anyone who wants to experience it.
Time spent on the Eclipse, a 122,000 ton floating hotel, is time spent surrounded not only by wind and sea and sun, (and 2,800 passengers and 1,300 crew members) but by thought-provoking art in all media- painting, sculpture, collage, photography, even video. Assembled by fine arts curator Christina Chandris, the collection includes work by artists like Vik Muniz, Karl Blossfeldt, Robert Rauschenberg, Bhakti Baxter (above), Jeff Koons (below), Joseph Beuys, Mariko Mori and Anish Kapoor.
The curatorial direction for the collection is embodied in “The Phenomenon of an Eclipse” where the “rare and unexpected” are the driving forces for the artistic selection:
While the descriptive wall labels and plaques do a great job of illuminating the work, guests are also invited to borrow an iPad from the front desk to tour the collection in depth. Who would have imagined?
But I’m not writing this post to focus on this collection. There’s a separate collection of works on the ship, all of which were created by one photographer, Guri Dahl.
In truth, when I saw this plaque, I was floored. There are 10 decks lined with stateroom corridors, and with the ship’s length at more than 1,000 feet, that would equal many hundreds of photographs. By a single photographer. That’s quite a commission. Quite an opportunity for an artist to fill a huge space with their work, and for guests like me to experience the vision of the artist in a really deep way.
I spent hours one morning, alone, walking the length of every single deck to see every single photograph,
and I felt the strength of the vision: Sensitive, clear, at once focused and spacious.
This is work that at first glance feels like a hip-shot: Casual, off-handed, captured without looking through the viewfinder.
At second glance, everything changes. These are not hip-shots.
These are carefully composed images,
where selective focus within the frame guides the eye and literally reshapes the frame.
All with a lightness of touch, so that we feel the breeze, and the play of light…
such a keen perception of light…
refracted, rippling light
light that glows
and light that surrounds and transforms.
Walking the corridors of the ship surrounded by hundreds of
light-filled photographs was quite an experience…
The images linger still…
an homage to the natural world,
photography and travel (by land and by sea)
conspiring to open our eyes.