Almost no other area of the planet is gripping human fascination as firmly as the polar regions are, mythical and inaccessible locations that have drawn and challenged everyone that ventures into them.
DUE NORTH brings together 5 contemporary artistic positions. Three of them are directly influenced by arctic regions, be it geographically, geopolitically, climatically or historically. This show positions these views alongside two other artists whose work aesthetic is reminiscent of the landscapes found beyond the 60th parallel north. To let them enter into a dialogue and have their unique voices tell tales of the Great North. Be it by documenting destruction, in an attempt to preserve the status quo in works that can be seen as a monument to human-made impact into the planet’s ecosystem, or by its sheer texture evoking similarities of glacial surfaces and frozen oceans.
Climate change is affecting the region at twice the speed than the rest of our planet, global temperature is already 1°C above pre-industrial levels and scientists predict a potential worst-case scenario of a 3.5°C increase by 2035. Due to global warming, polar regions are becoming more accessible, bringing neoliberal opportunities to the area through tourism and other business interests, like oil drilling. What was once an impenetrable maze of patches of lands in the grips of permafrost and frozen bodies of water, ravaged by strong winds, has opened up in modern times.
The arctic regions of our planet are under pressure from an array of changes and threats. Scientists are forced to revise forecasts for the future of climate change and its influence on glaciers and sea ice in ever shorter intervals. Rising temperatures endanger flora and fauna, with species finding it harder to adapt to a challenging ecosystem, which in recent times is constantly getting warmer, forcing changes in foraging and migration patterns of carnivores and herbivores. By that extent, also affecting the indigenous inhabitants of those regions as well.
Warmer climate offers the possibility of an arctic gold rush. Geopolitical interests, deregulation of environmental protection laws, all fueled by the powerful force of profit. The once inaccessible frozen lands may hold up to 10 billion tonnes of oil and gas deposits, tin, manganese, gold, nickel, lead, platinum and diamonds, rare earths, as well as fish and even lucrative new freight routes.
Glorified ideas of ‘Ultima Thule’, a frozen wonderland in the North, as portrayed as early as the 18th century by romanticist painters like Caspar David Friedrich or William Bradford, by that making it into literature and the global collective memory, is clashing with the harsh reality of climate change and hard scientific facts.
DUE NORTH will challenge the notion of the pristine, untouchable, overwhelming, ever present white wasteland and having to accept the fact that nothing is safe from global change of temperature, not even, or rather especially not, the arctic ice cap.
This group show aims at investigation on how art can function as a barometer for the destabilisation of global structures, linking artistic process and awareness to what could essentially be an indicator, advocator, potentially even an inciter, of altering mindsets and cultural change.
The exhibition will include works by the following artists:
Clémentine Rettig’s work oscillates between video art and sound installations. With the usage of field recordings, she encapsulates environments while approaching them as choreographic spaces, analysing their elemental musical dynamic and ultimately translating them into correlating imagery. Rettig states that she understands sounds to be the foundation, the dramatic frame of a location, whose building blocks she uses to compose soundscapes, creating immersive displays and transporting the viewer deep within the context of the work.
The artworks Rieko Hotta creates can be located between physicality and abstraction, which were evolved from concrete shapes. Her process of production is intrinsically linked to repetition of movement, creating highly charged works which challenge the viewer’s perception of shape and depth, presenting a multitude of focal points and by that forcing an attentive observation, while at the same time evading the need for precise interpretations.
Xue Mu works with a multitude of different artistic media and developed a very unique, almost synaesthetic approach to creation. Her very personal and organic process of making marks produces drawings and objects, which on the surface, seem to manifest order out of chaos, by gently guiding the onlooker, not unlike a musical composition would, but whose intricacy on closer examination visually implies to the potentially unrepresentable structure of the thought process, creating something close to a synaptic network made of pigments on paper.
The mixed media works of Kristian Askelund can be seen as landscape paintings in their most contemporary manifestation. With satellite imagery as a source material, he places his works on what can be located as the edge between figurativeness and abstraction. He worked virtually exclusively on the Alberta Oil Sands for the last 4 years, trying to recreate the almost apocalyptic landscape of these open pit mines with the use of chemical reactions and raw materials which are directly connected to its real world counterparts.
Pako Quijada works predominantly with video and photography, being deeply interested in the structures and inner workings of emotions and memory. In his highly personal, layered approach, he creates artworks that invite the viewer to become immersed into what is observed. Often utilising a subtly poetic aesthetic language, he rejects being obstructed by genre defining boundaries, locating especially his video works somewhere between narrative cinema, experimental magical realism and at times conceptual pieces of video art.
Due North is a cooperation of Othergrounds and Artponds.