Sunset, Amundsen Sea, Southern Ocean, Antarctica
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My photography has addressed both the manifold qualities of the places in our world and the myriad ways we experience our placement in it. I've covered a lot of territory in my travels, but of all the places I have directly experienced, Antarctica stands foremost as the single—and signal—place towards which my soul has been most insistently driven. When there, smack in its midst, I am where (to paraphrase my friend Barry Lopez) my soul feels most 'right.' Those of us who feel the pull of the Poles are fired by fierce and inexplicable passions. For my part, it has been when I'm on the Ice that I know I have felt the loom of epiphany; that I've gained my most intense awareness of the numinous. Here, above all else, clarity and transcendence prevail. On this harsh, austere and primordial continent, the compass of my embrace becomes its broadest. Here, in this uttermost place, awash in its wonder, I have, unfathomably, found a subsuming sense of grace. The work I do there takes on the cast of a mission, a mission suffused with ardor and awe. By my lights, all of that which can be experienced in the Antarctic can be infused with an innate, primal and subsuming metaphysical presence—to its very core it bears a charge of the sacral. It is an otherworldly place, the edge of the Earth—its farthest horizon. Being present there approximates, in essence, being apart from the planet itself, being a part of the firmament. Aside from our Earth's oxygen, Antarctica holds more in common with the alien surfaces of other planets and moons than it does with the surrounds it shares on its home orb. It is a daunting, distinct and distant realm that hovers nebulously at the far asymptote of all human ken; a sublime and uncertain, ethereal and empyrean world—a world unto its own, a world fraught with awe and immanence. It harbors glories known nowhere else. Its beauty is inchoate and elusive; its truth is elemental and ever enigmatic.
Stuart Klipper was born in the Bronx in 1941. He then lived in Stockholm, Sweden, moved to Minneapolis in 1970 and currently resides there. He has made six visits to Antarctica to photograph, and has also worked in Greenland, Iceland, Svalbard, Alaska and Lapland (in the area irradiated by the Chernobyl disaster). Other major forays have taken him across Northern Australia; the deserts of Israel and Sinai; the tropical rain forests of Costa Rica, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego; and Sri Lanka and Pakistan. He has logged many thousands of miles at sea, photographing on all of the Earth's oceans and seas. For over 30 years, he has made photographs in all 50 states, distilling and crystallizing the defining characteristics of American regions. Other undertakings include extensively photographing the First World War cemeteries and memorials of the Western Front, major physics and astronomy research installations throughout the U.S. and the Anasazi ruins of the Southwest. His photographs have been exhibited in, and collected by, major museums in the U.S. and overseas; foremost, the Museum of Modern Art, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Walker Art Center, The Jewish Museum, the Israel Museum, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Kunsthalle Bonn and the Moderna Museet. He has been the recipient of several major grants, including two each from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Bush Foundation, and three each from the McKnight Foundation and the Minnesota State Arts Board. He is a recipient of the U.S. Navy's Antarctic Service Medal. He was also visiting professor, Art Department, Colorado College, 1978 to 2008.