In June 2008, Miami artist Xavier Cortada will travel to the North Pole, ninety degrees North (90N), with sound artist Juan Carlos Espinosa to create new works (Arctic “ice paintings”) and site-specific eco-art installations exploring our connection to the natural world. Espinosa will video and photodocument Cortada’s work for future exhibits, and compose the installation’s soundscapes.
Cortada, a National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic Artists and Writers Program recipient, traveled with Espinosa to Antarctica during December 2006 - January 2007 to create new works (Antarctic “ice paintings”) and implement various art projects (see www.cortada.com/antarctica), including the “Longitudinal Installation” and “Endangered World” two installations to make a point where the Earth’s longitudes converged.
Some of the art work and soundscapes created during this Antarctic artist’s residency has been shown in museum exhibits including: "Weather Report," a group exhibit curated by Lucy Lippard which opened at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in September 2007, and "Envisioning Change," a United Nations Environment Programme-sponsored group show which opened in Oslo, Norway in June 2007 and is currently on exhibit at the BOZAR Center for Fine Arts in Brussels. During early 2008, it will tour to Monaco and then the Field Museum in Chicago.
Like Cortada’s Antarctic work, the North Pole pieces and temporary installations will also address global climate change. These will include the creation of Arctic “ice paintings” and reinterpretation of “Longitudinal Installation” and “Endangered World” at the Earth’s northernmost point.
Using water from the melting Antarctic ice cap to make art is an ingenious way to draw people's attention to one of the most important issues of our time, and in addition, it's a beautiful painting. I'll display it proudly.
Governor, State of California
While in Antarctica, the Miami artist created “ice paintings” using sea ice, glacier and sediment samples provided to him by scientists working in Antarctica. The artist titled the works on paper by randomly selecting the names of geographic features from a map of the continent that inspired their creation.
In creating the ice paintings, Cortada melts the very ice that threatens sea levels to rise, destroy fragile ecosystems and displace millions from their homes along the coastlines.
As he travels up the Arctic Sea, Cortada will melt pieces of sea ice and icebergs on paper to create a series of Arctic “ice paintings.”
The Longitudinal Installation
I will place 12 pairs of shoes in a circle around the ceremonial South Pole as a temporary installation. Placing the shoes next to each other as a proxy for people across the globe, I aim to conceptually diminish the distance between them.
-- Xavier Cortada
Miami artist Xavier Cortada purchased 12 identical pairs of men’s black shoes and shipped them to Antarctica. Cortada also captured newspaper quotes from people across the 24 time zones about the impact of climate change on their lives. (Please scroll down to read them).
In Antarctica, Cortada painted the approximate longitudes of the country in which the quote originated inside 24 shoes (so that in the South Pole each could be aligned with the longitude corresponding to the location on Earth where the voices originated).
To paint the shoes, Cortada mixed acrylic paint with soil samples from the Dry Valleys in Antarctica, one of the places on Earth most susceptible to climate change.
Cortada then flew to the South Pole and placed the 24 shoes inches apart in a circle along the South Pole, each aligned with its corresponding longitude as it converged on the South Pole.
The artist then walked to the 0 degree longitude, the prime meridian, and walked clockwise around the pole, stopping at each shoe to recite the 24 quotes from men and women across the planet. Some of these include:
Zimbabwe: “We used to be able to grow everything we want but that has all changed.”
--- Matsapi Nyathi, Grandmother.
Iran: “More than 90 percent of our wetlands have completely dried up.”
--- Alamdar Alamdari, environmental researcher, Fars Province.
Borneo (Indonesia): “There's been no rain, it's horrible. The governor's office has instructed schools and offices to close until further notice.”
--- Hidayat, government official.
Philippines: “The disaster covered almost every corner of this province - rampaging floods, falling trees, damaged houses. It happened very rapidly and many people did not expect this because they haven't experienced mud flows in those areas before.”
--- Fernando Gonzalez, governor of Albay province.
Tuvalu: “Tuvalu is the first victim of global warming.”
--- Koloa Talake, former prime minister. OR
Colorado (USA): “In Colorado, climate change means less snow, less water, more wildfires, less biodiversity and less economic opportunity, as there is less water available for development.”
--- Stephen Saunders, president, Rocky Mountain Climate Organization.
Argentina: “The flooding has forced us to redesign routes. We thought it would be for a short period of time, but it has been almost six years.”
--- Carlos Avellaneda, manager of a trucking company.
Brazil: “I am very frightened. One thing goes wrong, and the entire system follows.”
--- Jair Souto, Mayor of Manaquiri.
Cortada now wants to travel to the opposite end of the world, place 24 sets of women’s black shoes inches apart, representing another set of people from each of the 24 time zones across the world who have been affected by global climate change.
"[His] project represents a new and progressive dimension in artistic expression for the program, adding an element of conceptual interpretation to the growing body of Antarctic art and literary works."
Kim Silverman, National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program Director
Using acrylic paint diluted with Antarctic seawater, the Miami artist painted 24 flags with the scientific name of species across Earth whose habitats are being destroyed by humans. Cortada also painted the habitat's longitude on each of the 24 flags (e.g., Gorilla at 30°East, Panda Bear at 105° East, Leatherback Turtle at 120° East, Siberian Tiger at 135° East, etc.).
Cortada then planted the flags 15 degrees from one another in a circle around the South Pole, aligning each with its corresponding longitudinal line as it converges on the planet's southernmost point. In his Endangered World installation, the artist situates these animals on the driest, coldest and most inhospitable of continents to highlight the point that numerous species across the globe are losing their habitat. Half of the planet's biodiversity is threatened.
The twenty-four animals Cortada selected for the flags are endangered because their habitats are environmentally threatened by humans and/or because they have been hunted to the brink of extinction.
Cortada wants to recreate the installation in the North Pole, including the names of another 336 animals (all 360 degrees around the world) to represent the mass extinction happening in every corner of our planet.
During the journey on the icebreaker, Cortada will work with participants to create an installation that is to position the names of 360 endangered species along the longitude of the habitat on the world below where they now live.
Native Flags (www.nativeflags.org)
At a time when melting polar sea ice is causing so many to focus on which political power will place its flag over the Arctic (controlling the Northwest Passage shipping lanes and the petroleum resources beneath the sea ice), Miami artist Xavier Cortada has developed a project that engages people across the world below to plant a green flag and native tree to help address global climate change. Reforestation helps prevent the polar regions from melting.
At the North Pole, 90N (click here), Xavier Cortada will create site-specific installations exploring our connection to each other and our planet. The artist will use melting sea ice to create "Arctic Ice Paintings" and reinstall works originally created during his 2007 National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers residency at the South Pole, 90S (click here).
Cortada will also plant a green flag at the North Pole when he arrives there on June 30, 2008. On that same day folks from around the world will be asked to also plant a green flag and native tree in their community. (On that day, community leaders can model the behavior by planting a native tree and green flag at their science centers and city halls.)
The conspicuous green flag serves as a catalyst for conversations with neighbors, who will be encouraged to join the effort to help rebuild our native tree canopy.
Cortada is creating art at the extreme ends of the planet to address issues of global climate change at every point in between.
While the installations at the North Pole are about having us think globally, Cortada has developed "Native Flags," a participatory eco-art project that engages individuals across the globe to act locally.
90N Fundraising Strategy
The strength of this project is in that it creates art at the two extreme ends of the world to address the issue of global climate change at points in between. The two most important components of this project have been funded:
- In 2007, the artists traveled to the South Pole as part of a residency funded through the National Science Foundation to develop and document the first series of installations – those to be installed at 90S. <!--[if !supportLineBreakNewLine]-->
- Travel to the North Pole in 2008 (via an icebreaker) has already been secured for both artists.
The remaining costs enhance what has already been a successful endeavor. Works created for the Antarctic portion of the exhibit have been displayed in museums across Europe and the United States and have participated in two Art Fairs. There has been extensive media coverage about the work. (As an eco-advocacy effort, “ice paintings” created then have been accepted in public events by the sitting Governors of California and Florida and to the chair of the US Conference of Mayors.) The work has also been in solo exhibits in a private gallery, a public gallery and the rotunda of the Florida Capitol.
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