Media & Reviews: New Media & Blogs about Louis Helbig
new media & blogs
"Helbig's aerial images teeter between document and abstraction, and capture the terrible beauty of man's ability to alter the landscape at will" Toronto Star
"The images are beautiful. How is it that our visual acuity has been trained to find abstraction so sublime. ... We need people such as Louis Helbig to keep explaining not just his photographs, but the abstract nature of the oil sands enterprise itself." Onsite Review
"Aerial Abstractions - Burtynsky? Gursky? Helbig!" Visual Encounter
The "images ... draw immediate comparison to the mid- to late- 20th century urban abstractions of American photographer Aaron Siskind. ... Residual Bitumen, for example, appears as a lyrical curving surface: it is only through the title, which includes the global positioning system coordinates, that we understand that the subject of the photograph is the trace of viscous crude oil left behind by the petroleum industry. Helbig activates ... uncomfortable dualities and leaves them unresolved" festivalX
"Beautiful Destruction consists of large format prints of the Alberta Tar Sands and is easily one of the most beautiful collections I have seen in person. Each image is a work of art taken in one of the ugliest places on earth. That takes a true artist to accomplish. Go check it out when you have a chance.." Andrew Van Beek
Louis Helbig describes himself as an accidental artist. Raised in Williams Lake B.C., and with an M.Sc in Economic History from the London School of Economics, he was working for the Department of Foreign Affairs in Ottawa when he was offered a promotion ... more, including exhibition schedule and images
X Festival Ottawa Photography Festival, Oct 1, 2010. IN/OUT: Reading Images at X 2010. Response Essay written by Curator Melissa Rombout. Excerpt paragraph on Louis Helbig's Beautiful Destruction Exhibition at Ottawa City Hall as part of Festival X.
Louis Helbig's 2008 excursion with his partner Kristin Reimer to the Alberta Tar Sands has yielded a series of aerial photographic abstractions that belie the very specific marred terrains they depict. Taken from a vintage 1946 Luscombe monoplane, the resulting images at first glance draw immediate comparison to the mid- to late- 20th century urban abstractions of American photographer Aaron Siskind. Like Siskind, the detailed minutiae of a specific place (here) ostensibly objectively given by photographic evidence rendered by the machine lens are contested and eventually superseded in our sensory beholding to the aesthetic concerns of form and colour, composition and balance (nowhere). Residual Bitumen, for example, appears as a lyrical curving surface: it is only through the title, which includes the global positioning system coordinates, that we understand that the subject of the photograph is the trace of viscous crude oil left behind by the petroleum industry. As a cultural object, the dialectic of beauty/ugly, the beauty of the image itself versus the ugliness of its polluted composition, slams into another conflation of binaries extremely familiar in the history of photographies, namely, the uneasy shapeshifting of images between their function as social or scientific evidence and their assigned role as aesthetic objects. Helbig activates all these uncomfortable dualities and leaves them unresolved; and we, the beholders, are likewise unable to "fix" these images into a stable and unified interpretation.
Full essay here. FestivalX.ca