Bernhard Giger: ‹KünstlerInnenporträts›
The personal collection of artist portraits by Bernhard Giger, allures the viewer on a parallel time travel back to the dynamic art scene of the seventies. The current director of the Kornhausforum, Bern, captured the time of transition within the Euro-American art world through the lens of his camera. Undisturbed by the future developments in the art history of the XX Century, influential figures of the art world or merely forgotten artists are displayed on equal terms within the exhibition.
The Museums of drawers by Herbert Diestel, was the starting point for the series of artists portraits by Bernhard Giger. Simultaneously, the close relation to Gerhard J. Lischka leads to the creation of the socio-cultural and philosophical magazine Der Löwe. As a lively personality within the art scene of the 70’s in Bern, Giger explored his talent as photographer, journalist and filmmaker further. Equally, the collaboration with Lisbeth Kornfeld, the director of the Berner Galerie at the time, opened many more doors to artist ateliers.
During this busy period, Giger had the opportunity to visit numerous artists in Switzerland as well as internationally. In New York, he met Andy Warhol, Robert Indiana and Nancy Graves. In Paris
he spent time with Roland Topor. In Düsseldorf, the famous couple, Bernd and Hilla Becher, welcomed him and at the local Kunsthalle he got introduced to Christian Boltanski. At the
Art Basel 4, he captured the glance of Joseph Beuys for a second. Another defining moment, were the visits to the actionists Hermann Nitsch, Otto Mühl, Günter Brus and Arnulf Rainer in Vienna.
Giger seized these encounters with great attention, yet his work remains discrete as the focus is dedicated solely to documentation of the moment in time. Subtly sober black and white photographs portray the artists in their private environment, without ever revelling more than the sheer minimum. Occasionally, a cup and saucer or a smile reveal more about the atmosphere or the person than the gaze itself. By a closer look, the often recognizable portraits might appear disturbingly cold or they may become more lively and familiar.
The personal archive of Bernhard Giger will be displayed for the first time this summer in the Gallery Bernhard Bischoff. The exhibition invites the viewer to critically engage with the time of change in the arts but also with the socio economic society turmoil of the seventies within the so-called western world.
Ann Huber-Sigwart, August 2014