Association of Polar Early Career Scientists


APECS Webinars

APECS Art Webinar with Andrea Juan - No White Antarctica

Artist Andrea Juan


With the greatest honour our APECS Art Project Group invited for a webinar on Antarctica project and artist Andrea Juan in conversation on 17th December.

Andrea Juan works with photography, digital video, graphic art, and installations. Since 2004 she has carried out performances and video installations in Antarctica based on scientist investigations related to climate changes; her Guggenheim Fellowship supports this work. In 2007 she received the Canadian Studies Faculties Research Program grant.

She also obtained UNESCO Awards (France), National Fund of Arts, and Antorchas Foundation grants. She received as well major awards from the Konex Foundation, Argentine Association of Critics, National Museum of Fine Arts, International Critics Association, and National Academy of Fine Arts, among others.

The artist began with research conducted by the Argentine scientist Rodolfo del Valle on the appearance of methane gas particles on the surface of the Antarctic Peninsula. The danger is that rising global temperatures melt and diminish the ice barrier, releasing methane gas and multiplying the greenhouse effect. Faced with this fact, Andrea Juan produced photographic and video records of large ice masses and detached ice blocks as a warning. They remind one, for instance, of the loss of the Larsen Ice Barrier, which is today only thirty percent of its former area.

467 Andrea Juan APECS ArtThe video that accompanied the photos recorded three performances on three different days that reflected climate change. On a snowy mesa on Marambio Island, two performers walked through the immense desert, hauling metres of gauze in colours that are associated with methane: purple, blue, and orange. The first action was held on a sunny day and was followed by one on a cloudy day. In the second, the action was recorded from a helicopter; the gauze veiled the camera’s view of the continent and became a metaphor for the dangerous ecological situation caused by the toxic methane gas found on its surface. The third performance took place in the middle of a storm, which made the performers’ actions extremely difficult as they were forced to fight the wind and the rain in order to remain on their feet. The contemporary tension between Man and Nature were conveyed by the figures in a highly dramatic fashion.

Although these three performances were presented as three parts of one video in the exhibition, the artist also conceived them as sections of a video installation, to be projected simultaneously. This is how they were exhibited at the recent Biennial of the End of the World, held in the remote city of Ushuaia. One can easily imagine that the effect produced by the images was similar to that of some of Caspar David Friedrich’s works: a sublime feeling, a mixture of pleasure and fear caused by the unbridled force of nature. Thanks to the possibilities opened by new technologies, Andrea Juan overcomes the merely representational plane and appeals to lived experience. Although her viewers are often thousands of miles away from the depicted places in her videos and photographs, it is possible for one confronted by them to experience the undesirable situation in which we are all immersed and to reflect on it in depth.

Outreach & Science Communication
  • Antarctic

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