While catching up on mail and publications last week, I spent some time reading about Antarctic Dreams, a collaboration between Gary Kolb and Jay Needham, in the Fall 2014 issue of Exposure. A 2010 exhibition/installation of the work at the Southern Illinois University Museum featured photographs made by Kolb and a collection of sound sculptures created by Needham while the two artists worked in Antarctica. Of particular importance to the artists’ journey there was exploring Deception Island, an active volcanic caldera and a place “steeped in the residue of the whale oil industry.” In the early twentieth century, tens of thousands of whales were processed at Whalers Bay on the island. Some evidence of this history remains; boiled whale bones are scattered over the beach and in the waters of the caldera. Kolb’s whale bone pictures are compositionally/metaphorically layered, combining images of bones and landscapes of the island, referring to the inevitable erosion of both elements. I am also drawn to Kolb’s photographs depicting monolithic icebergs and huge chunks of beached ice, reflecting the expansiveness of nature and the continent of Antarctica.
From Kolb’s statement: Antarctica inspires imaginations, an immense and nearly pristine continent, inhospitable yet enticing exploration and discovery. Governed through treaty by multiple nations that all stake political and research capital there, Antarctica is a contested space. With climate change and resource exploration leading to increased interest in the southernmost continent, we all live seemingly closer to Antarctica than ever before in history. In these images from my brief travels there I hope to articulate small pieces of Antarctica’s past and present-its history of exploration and resource exploitation, the lives of its resident birds and mammals, and its incredible natural beauty.
Source: SPE Member Gallery