LARSON’S WATER / COP15 PARIS AGREEMENT - UNITED NATIONS
Antarctica’s Larsen Ice Shelf lies between the Bellingshausen, Weddell and Scotia Seas. It also forms a barrier between the Southern Pacific, and Atlantic Oceans. As a result of unprecedented global warming, the B part of the Larsen shelf dramatically fell into the Weddell Sea in 2002. What has happened to this melted water? Has it reached the Arctic yet? Might we be drinking it?
Larsen’s Lost Water coincided with the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, ArtCOP21. The exhibition focused on the ways that the relatively uncharted parts of the globe – the Polar Regions, and the seas – are (mis)represented, through exploring context, and how introducing an alien or unexpected object into a space affects both components readings. The exhibition plays with the dislocated object as cliché, and metaphor in relation to climate change. Ruth Little, from Cape Farewell states, ‘Metaphors allow us to think at different levels of scale simultaneously, linking the minute to the infinite’. However, isn’t there a danger that these metaphorical objects become clichés? These objects, and visualisations are important as agents for change because - quite literally –‘we’ve seen it all before’ through TV or internet footage.
The exhibition considers the proximity of objects, and how we engage with, and witness them. What might happen if the viewer shifts from being a spectator into a witness, because what is happening in front of their eyes is an actuality, not a media representation?
As critical writer, James Polchin states, ‘The word witness, as we have come to define it in the latter half of the twentieth century, is more readily equated with the experiences of surviving trauma, investing the act of witnessing with an ethical responsibility....to witness, especially in the context of historical visual documents, demands not only a speaking, but a speaking out’. So when you are witness to something, you become implicated in it.
The exhibition involved both the actual gallery space, and the connecting main reception space at Wimbledon College of Arts. Nothing in the main gallery was captioned, thereby inviting the viewer to witness the space, and objects directly. The medical apparatus placed on the raft connected to both the idea of how an object can both act as a metaphor of the energy systems that are transformed around us in extreme regions on the planet. How can the movement, and stimulation of algae which produces oxygen act as a tool to question our relationships with micro species in the Artic, or organisms that we can’t see trapped in the ice. As the ice melts there is a process of transformation that is happening to every connected ecosystem in which affects the global oxygen metabolic process of breathing. This functional, and aesthetic intervention aims to question conceptually, and physically the tensions of oxygen. How can the function of an art artefact become a metabolic tool within the physiology, and perpetual realms of the viewer through the mechanical use of the apparatus that allows one to understand ecological issues on a haptic level?
The exhibition, curated by Edwina Fitzpatrick, took place at the Wimbledon Space at Wimbledon College of Arts. It featured work by Edwina Fitzpatrick, Heather Ackroyd & Dan Harvey, Tania Kovats, Bryndis Snaebjornsdottir, Mark Wilson, Yussef Agbo-Ola, Tim Alexander, Michael Crossan, Susan Walker and Szu-Chieh Yun.
"Medicinal Apparatus - Series XUio"- Algae Oxygen Circulation/ London 2015, Agbo-Ola,