Doug Breiðarmerkurfjara Beach (2012) by Edith Dekyndt

Doug Aitken, here to go (ice cave), 2002

here to go (ice cave) consists of a large
circular photograph displaying a blue ice tunnel of indeterminate size. The
work relates to the arctic sequences of Aitken’s magnum opus New Ocean, 2001,
in which the artist took over the entire Serpentine Gallery and transformed it
into an audio-visual polar environment. In this installation, sublime long
shots of arctic mountain peeks and valleys gave way to close-ups of cracking
ice and burgeoning rivulets. In here to go (ice cave) Aitken
intricately links the Romantic notion of the individual alone in the landscape
with the angst and alienation of the urban dweller in the current information
age.

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Edith Dekyndt, Breiðarmerkurfjara Beach, 2012

The video Breiðarmerkurfjara Beach (2012) by Edith Dekyndt
takes as it’s the subject the ice in the Breiðarmerkurjökull outlet glacier,
which is made of compressed snow high up in the Vatnajökull ice cap. The way
towards the glacier margin is long while being buried deep in the bowels of the
glacier, sliding down the gently sloping land surface. Many centuries later, it
ends up in Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Thus, the ice is very old precipitation.
It contains small bubbles with equally old, compressed air. All the ice in the
lagoon or at the nearby beach melts completely and the ancient precipitation
enters the terrestrial water cycle again.

 

Simon Faithfull, Stromness, 2005

Tracing part of a journey through Antarctica on board the RSS
Ernest Shackleton with the British Antarctic Survey, Simon Faithfull’s video
Stromness offers a vision of the end of the world as found in an
abandoned whaling station. In 1917 Stromness was the whaling station that Sir
Ernest Shackleton managed to reach after floating for 2 years on the ice flows,
following the crushing and sinking of his ship. Filming this now uninhabited
Island of South Georgia, Faithfull shows how it has been repopulated by a
colony of seals. Taking over a building that was once occupied by humans, they
have replaced it with a complex and aggressive social structure of their own.

 

Ellie Ga, Reading of the Deck of Tara, 2011; At the
Beginning North Was Here, 2011; Pinholes, 2012; Drift Drawings, 2010

Ellie Ga migrates between past and future in this series of
works exploring the theme of voyage. In Reading of the Deck of Tara (2011)
Ga uses a bespoke deck of cards to give readings to visitors twice weekly, each
unique and following a different trajectory. Through imagery on decks of cards
Ga explores how telling fortunes relates to weather prediction, linking time,
chance and the Tarot to metaphors for how we cope, or fail to cope, with
uncertainty. Uncertainty, this time of the past and of recollection, is touched
upon in At the Beginning North Was Here, (2011). Conceived during her
time aboard a polar sailboat, Tara, the recollections of this extreme
experience are translated through a laborious photographic process which mimics
the layers of memory and forgetting. The artist pieces together the complex
maps that the crew invented to navigate the breadth of ice in which they
drifted. A series of slides showing the polar landscape dissolves between light
and dark, interspersed with phrases parsed from the crewmembers’ personal
diagrams defining their location in expansive ice. Maps of a different kind,
Ga’s Drift Drawings (2010) trace the path of Tara’s drift through the
ice pack. The team aboard Tara found themselves at the mercy of the
unpredictability of the frozen ocean which held the boat hostage to the
patterns of weather, creating the drifting path of its course. The artist
surrenders to chance in Pinholes (2012), by documenting her time on the
ice using a pinhole camera built by a young art student and old out of date
paper. The technique resulted in a disjuncture between notes and final image
where the comfort of photography as reportage is once again refused.

 

Basim Magdy, No Shooting Stars, 2016

Basim Magdy’s video No Shooting Stars (2016)
submerges itself in the hidden, unknown world of the oceans. Built around the
personal narrative of someone whose identity is vested in the seas, the film
progresses with merging images and dream-like scenes that drift in dissonance
with a narration. Some imagery shows what happens underwater, although most
images are made up of spaces that are all affected by the ocean’s mystery but
bring no enlightenment. The ocean’s surface is relatively known – it has been
crossed by numerous explorers and cargo ships for many centuries – but the
depths under the surface have never been mapped out. The voice of the narrator
echoes this, enticingly familiar and yet built up as an image that slips away
as soon as it takes shape, reflecting the logic of the unstable ground of water
space.

 

Enrique Ramirez, Voile N°3 : Voile Migrante, 2017

A sail is a free being, a floating flag, a migrating entity.
To hand-make a sail is a process of knowledge transmission, of know-how. Taking
apart and re-piecing the elements that make up the sail in Voile N°3 : Voile
Migrante (2017), Enrique Ramirez navigates what it takes to survive in this
ever-changing world. Nowadays, history is easily forgotten just as it begins to
repeat itself. In this participatory installation, Ramírez reflects on the ease
of forgetting as tantamount to the illusory ease of sailing off towards a
precipice in the distance.

 

Ana Vaz, The Great Camouflage, 2017

Newell Harry, Untitled (Black Sabbath and other
Anecdotes), 2015

Newell Harry’s cross-cultural itinerary informs a rich
oeuvre that explores historical and present-day instances of migrations of
people, objects, and languages across the Pacific Ocean. The artist’s works
often appropriate elements of tribal art to deploy and subvert their social
functions. In Untitled (Black Sabbath and other Anecdotes), (2015)
photographs from Harry’s stays in India, Vanuatu and Tonga further testify to
the many encounters that inspire his art practice.

 

Camille Henrot, Million Dollars Point, 2011

Million Dollars Point (2011), originally shot in
Santo Island, Vanuatu in the South Pacific, surveys a unique underwater
cemetery of military equipment abandoned by the U.S. Army after World War II.
The title of the film echoes the name of the submerged site, which is now a
popular diving spot for Australian tourists. Henrot’s film juxtaposes this
underwater footage with highly stereotypical images taken from a local music
video depicting a mustached man dancing and singing on a Pacific Beach,
surrounded by dancing Polynesian girls. In contrasting history with popular
culture, Henrot sketches a portrait of the Pacific Islands that raises issues
of exoticism, foreignness and authenticity.