CMU School of Drama

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Art at the End of the World: A Diary from the Antarctic Biennale A typical sailing tour of the Antarctic Peninsula is a focused encounter with Mother Nature, a journey through icy tundras, past humpback whales and epic vistas—so I’m told.

But the expedition I took there last month, aboard the 117-meter-long Akademik Sergey Vavilov, as part of a project called the Antarctic Biennale, was anything but typical. It came replete with art installations, salon discussions, and a cast of colorful international characters—artists, scientists, and philosophers—not to mention a powerful sense that nothing quite like this had been ventured before.

1 comment:

Helena Hewitt said...

After reading Madeleine L’Engle’s Wrinkle in Time (seemingly a requirement for preteen girls) I picked up her book Troubling a Star. It was one of those rare books where, as the plot faded from my mind over time, the setting remained firmly embedded in my imagination. The majority of the action took place on an Arctic marine biology research boat and that, along with my father’s stories about the summers he spent above the Arctic Circle in Alaska, have always made the poles a particularly romanticized area of the world in my mind. They seem like nature at it’s rawest and most majestic: cold, menacing, overwhelming, and awesome in the purest and most literal sense of the word. This project that the author describes, taking a boat full of vibrant and diverse minds to one of the most extreme places on Earth just to push boundaries and inspire “a search for new artistic frontiers that takes it cue from waning geographic ones” seems at once strange, wonderful, extraordinary, and a little pointless and wasteful. But in the end isn’t just an extreme version of the conferences people are constantly gathering at to be inspired and motivated by the work of their peers, and the unique setting must have allowed this to be far more stimulating than your average convention center. I will be interested to see if any innovative projects or collaborations of ideas stem from this event.