Before there was ski porn… | AspenTimes.com
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Before there was ski porn…

Joel Stonington
Aspen CO Colorado
The 1931 film "Der Weisse Rausch" is one of three early ski movies that will show Friday at Aspen's Sky Hotel.
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ASPEN ” Scottish-born contemporary painter Peter Doig stood in the lobby of Aspen’s Sky Hotel on Tuesday, excitedly describing the three ski films he has chosen to show on Friday. They’re a far cry from today’s ski pornography, he explained. Instead, they highlight interesting stories, unusual camera angles and critical historical moments for ski movies.

The three films will show Friday from 8 p.m. to midnight at the Sky Hotel’s 39 degrees bar.

Doig is the second artist to team up with the Aspen Art Museum and the Aspen Skiing Co. for an image on a lift ticket. This year’s ticket features a 1996 Doig painting, “Study for Olin Mark IV.”

Though the ski films highlight some of the earliest examples of extreme skiing, Doig’s paintings that incorporate mountains and skiing represent the quieter, more thoughtful side of the sport.

“I wanted to slow it down and concentrate on the feelings one gets,” Doig said. “Feeling very small…”

Though Doig may not be well-known outside of the contemporary art community, he already has a dedicated following” his art is featured in galleries such as London’s British Museum, MOMA in New York and London’s Tate Gallery. Last week, The New York Times reported that one of his paintings sold at auction for $10 million, an unusual price for a living artist.

The Aspen Art Museum’s public relations manager, Jeff Murcko, said Doig’s work is often spare, with a certain quietness. Further, Murcko said Doig often uses photographs as source material and has a strong interest in film, as well. Hence, the showing at Sky.

The three films Doig picked out mark major moments in the history of skiing films. Doig explained that the 1931 film, “Der Weisse Rausch,” roughly translated as “The White Ecstasy,” is one of the first mountain films.

“It’s just a race, kind of a mad race down the mountain,” Doig said, noting that the heroine of the film, Leni Riefenstahl, learned how to ski in order to be in one of director Arnold Fanck’s movies. By the time the movie was released in the U.S. in 1938, Riefenstahl was the “official” filmmaker of the Third Reich.

The second film, by director Werner Herzog, is a 1974 movie about a ski jumper, “Die grosse Ekstase des Bildschnitzers Steiner,” or “The Great Ecstacy of Woodcarver Steiner.”

“The one about the ski jumper is really interesting,” Doig said. “He was like a poet, really, he was the most unlikely athlete. It’s about an individual. Nowadays you don’t get that intimate portrait.”

The third movie that will be shown, “Ski Peru,” directed by Peter Chrzanowski, is a tour-de-force by extreme skiing pioneers Patrick Vallencant and Jean Marc Boivin.

When Doig was 18-years-old, he spent a winter in Chamonix, where Vallencant would show his own homemade films at a local church. Though Doig said he lost some interest in skiing the following year because painting became such a passion, he has come back to skiing and some of the old films that fed his early excitement.

The director of the film, Peter Chrzanowski, who was 21-years-old during filming in 1978, decided to ski Peru’s highest peak, the 22,000-foot Huascaran. With no high-altitude experience, he convinced a group to go with him and didn’t think twice until they got to the bottom of the peak. When Chrzanowski’s group couldn’t make it, Vallencant and Boivin appeared, grabbed the camera and continued to the top.

“It was a completely crazy thing to do,” Doig said. “The film is still very modest. It’s filmed in difficult circumstances so you don’t get all the glamour shots.”

Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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