Brigitte Niedermair has been a photographer for over fifteen years, alternating artistic research with fashion shoots. From the beginning, she has created images of exceptional technical and formal perfection; her artistic language is rigorous, accurate in every detail and engages with the subject matter.
Starting out from a work of staged photography in which, with great ethical commitment, she investigated the question of the female body and the transformation of society, she has more recently focused her artistic research in a clearly conceptual direction. Charged with aesthetic and ethical power, the theme of identity, in its most profound, immaterial aspects, is what emerges most powerfully today.
The experience she has built up in these two areas has allowed her to develop a coherent vision of great richness, which has made her one of the most sophisticated and thought provoking photographers within Italian and international art photography.
Her editorials are featured in magazines such as Wallpaper*, Citizen K, W magazine, CR Fashion Book by Carine Roitfeld, Dior magazine and Harpers Bazaar.
What does the concept of heimat mean to you personally?
With the concrete things we build, with its roots, its own memory and affections you grow. The relationship with my land is strong, powerful, but also full of contradictions.
I love South Tyrol, but it is mainly linked to the great culture of Central Europe with its writers and art.
Elias Canetti, who won a Nobel Prize for literature, recalls that: “you need to ready the contemporary writers too, you cannot feed with roots only”.
So my life is constantly split between the focus and study on the new trends of the contemporary world and the call and teachings from the great history of art, that I always carry in my work.
How much has or does Merano and South Tyrol shape your work?
Everyone brings with them, their own landscape of the soul. I carry a landscape that is made of what I see every day, that is a permanent multi-ethnic world in conflicts between societies, religions and cultures.
I believe that art should reflect on this, I do it by bringing a woman with a veil in the three peaks of Lavaredo, or photographing a woman with a burqa but allowing a glimpse of the navel.
Ours is a liquid society without borders, complex and constantly evolving.
In South Tyrol its evident that there is duality of cultures at work with Austrian and Italy influences, how do you think this shapes your personality?
I reply with the words of the Dalai Lama: “Give to those you love wings to fly, roots to return and reasons to stay.”
I feel lucky because I got from my parents all this, the wings and my Heimat: I live in the Tyrol, but constantly traveling, and first of all I feel a citizen of the world. It has more influence for me when I see a show in New York, a book of poems by an Egyptian poet, the metamorphosis of Kafka, than the debate between the diversity of cultures between Italy and Austria.
Let us look beyond our small borders, think about what will happen with the Trump Presidency, the crisis in the Middle East and at a time of the great migrations.
In your work Are You Still There you explored themes revolving around Egyptian mythology and culture, did you find anything profound in your research?
That work is a key point of my research … The pyramids are in the culture of ancient Egypt, the meeting point between the earth and the sky. I described the horizon of the pyramids as a mental horizon metaphor, but also spiritual, that lives within each of us. What’s “after”? Our soul where does it go? The great Italian poet Eugenio Montale, who also won a Nobel for literature, recalled in one of his most famous lines: “This we can tell you now, what we are not, what you do not want.”
Being spiritual means to ask yourself these questions. And thanks to art I try to bring these questions to everyone.
Brigitte Niedermair is part of the Wanderer South Tyrol collective. South Tyrol’s creative scene lives, breathes and inspires on five continents. ‘Wanderer’ is creative talent sharing their origin in the alpine region of South Tyrol, Northern Italy. The concept of ‘Wanderer’ is to bring these travellers together, to share their experiences, and inspire those who follow.