“Freeze” – 2nd prize, 2009


Elly Prestegård (* 1951)
Photography digital print
40 x 60 cm
Collection of the artist

The jury awards 2nd prize to the Norwegian artist Elly Prestegård with the following citation:

The photograph FREEZE shows a young boy holding a sheet of ice in front of his face. He holds the ice in both hands. The surface of the ice is uneven. It has a number of cracks, and in places it has melted. It has two holes, through which the boy can not only see, but observe the world. He is studying the world through a sheet of ice.
The image evokes surprise and wonder. The young boy does not appear entirely confident, but somehow fearful and tense. The ice is functioning as a temporary protection against the world outside. He is closing out large expanses of the world, and the ice has become a kind of filter – but his attempt to hold off the world of which he will gradually become part is in vain. The sheet of ice forms a threshold between the world of the child and the world of adults.
The safety the boy feels behind the ice sheet is temporary, perhaps only of very short duration. Nonetheless, he is holding the ice firmly in both hands, and this gives him some small measure of control. He can remain in childhood, and can continue to allow his existence to be governed by his imagination, and by play.
But a sheet of ice is a fragile barrier, which may break or melt away at any time. So is the world of the child. Childhood is a fragile construct, and circumstances that might bring this part of life to a premature end, or disturb or destroy it, are always at hand. The courage, trust and happiness of children are easily disturbed.
Prestegård’s work tells us in an original way about safety and protection, and perhaps also hints at the relative strength of the innocence of the child in its encounter with actual realities. In the moment of the image’s creation, the child has full control of both worlds: his own – the world of the child – and the reality outside.
The image also suggests something about how a child unconsciously tries to keep some of the elements of play and imagination through its entire life, and how such a trove can become a strength and a well of inspiration later in life. The sheet of ice separates two realities: the safe and known, and the challenging and unknown.
Elly Prestegård’s work is a photograph imported into Photoshop and then digitally post-processed. The immediate and direct photograph acquires further depth and emphasis through the digital process, in which reflection and manipulation prevail. The moment in which the young boy holds the ice sheet is frozen still, and then layer upon layer is built upon it, so suggesting the story of the young boy, and of us all.

Janike Sverdrup Ugelstad