Düsseldorf The woman from Unterbilk works as a doctor and is a passionate photographer. She donates part of the proceeds from her paintings.
When Georgia Ortner moved from Bonn to Düsseldorf four years ago, she had two reasons for doing so. On the one hand, she was offered a position as senior physician at the Düsseldorf University Clinic. On the other hand, she was lured into the city by art. In addition to her job as a gastroenterologist for children, she is also a passionate photographer with exhibitions in Bonn, Cologne, Düsseldorf and Los Angeles. She always found photography exciting, she says. “I am a visually guided person”.
In 2007 Ortner went to Romania with friends. “I wanted to show them my country of birth on a backpacker tour because there are so many prejudices about it. At a subsequent photo evening, my friends were amazed that there were completely different things in my pictures than what they had seen. I found it absurd but also exciting that they traveled through Romania through my eyes, so to speak,” the artist recalls. From this experience grew her love for travel photography, which has quickly become much more than just a hobby for her.
“Right from the start I wanted to be taken seriously as a photo artist and not as a doctor who takes pictures on the side,” emphasizes the photographer. But not only travel photography fascinates the Unterbilkerin. She is fascinated by structures, be they on trees or on old walls. “I find historic buildings with their talking walls particularly exciting. I always wonder what they’ve been through. What sort of row between two people, love messages, wars or festivals?” And just as old buildings are traces of the past, Ortner’s great desire is to leave traces with her art. “I would love it if my art outlived me and something of mine stayed.”
Ortner has been a regular at the Düsseldorf Photo Popup Fair since 2016. A fair that she appreciates not only because it offers great opportunities for her art. She finds the exchange between artists and audience really good. “You get a lot of inspiration and it’s like you’re in a completely different world,” she describes. The artist also met many interesting people there, such as the photographers Wolfgang Sohn, Frank Dursthoff and Rüdiger Schrader. Ortner has also published a photo book with Schrader as co-author called “Moments – Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia”. “It has always been my dream to publish a book. And working with Schrader has filled me with pride and gratitude.”
Of course, it also includes selling her works of art, which is often not that easy for the woman from Unterbilk. She finds it difficult to give up objects that she has been working on for months. “They are a little like my children. It can sometimes take a year before I can separate,” she says with a smile. That’s why she likes to see where her pictures are going. Your “children” should have a good home. Ortner donates part of the proceeds from their sales. This year, together with colleagues and friends, she founded the association “Mer stonn zesamme”. Together they want to help families from the Rhineland who are in material, financial and mental need.
Her job as a pediatric gastroenterologist is just as important to Ortner as photography. She really didn’t want to be a doctor. “It was probably an act of rebellion at the time because I come from a medical family,” she admits. Now she can’t imagine doing anything else. “It’s a wonderful job. Of course, I would never admit that to my parents,” she says with a laugh.
The senior doctor particularly enjoys working with the initially skeptical children and young people. “Children are more sincere in their emotions. You have to earn their respect. And when you manage to win over anxious young patients, that’s a really great moment,” says Ortner.
Last year she acquired another qualification, that of child protection medicine. “It’s a difficult field that’s very important to me,” she says. Protecting children from neglect, abuse or violence is very important and the number of unreported cases is very high. As a result of the pandemic, control bodies such as kindergartens and schools were temporarily eliminated, which made it difficult to identify suspected cases and investigate them on an interdisciplinary basis. “The area is still underfunded and underrepresented, so it is important to give it more attention,” emphasizes the doctor.