Friday, 18 January 2013

Environmental art in the wilderness

As privileged as I was to travel 8000 miles south to the 'last wilderness' as an artist, before the British Antarctic Survey started its artist-in-residency scheme, its taken me many years to fully digest the unique experience.

Being part of an expedition that in one sense completely failed in its aim for science-work, gathering data and in the duration of time spent on the island of South Georgia. We were up against an insurmountable logistical challenge, that made us all too aware of the isolation of our intended destination.Yet personally as an artist, I was able bring home this grainy image of 'The Ice Dress'.

This performance piece is concerned with this juxtaposition between the wilderness and mankind: as creatures we belong, but as 'nerve-shaken, over-civilised people'(John Muir), we do not. 

When I joined the team I was then challenged to persuade my fellow team members – all scientists – that 20 kilos of fabric was a worthy freight investment! I furthermore was met with an argument, that took me by surprise, to justify my presence with the view point of the experience from a creative, artistic, window. My roll was then moulded to embrace the holistic, emotional and aesthetic against the backdrop of the debate; art verses science. Art, for me, has always been a language that can encapsulate all experiences, debates and genres. As artists we can breathe a sigh of relief and relish in the thought-evoking priviledge that we don't have to compartmentalise.

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