I went to see the High Arctic exhibtion at the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich with high expectations. I have been studying and watching the Cape Farewell projects and ventures with great interest since starting my thesis research. I am fascinated by the Arctic with its harsh desolate weather conditions, dangerous creatures, and hostile landscape. David Buckland has been leading and orchestrating Cape Farewell since 2000, and it was with great anticipation that I awaited his new show.
The show is in the lower ground floor of the Museum and takes up a fairly small room. On entering the space, you are handed a torch, heightening my excitement, for I am still very familiar with my inner child. As you enter the space, you are faced with complete darkness and on the walls and floors there is text and lines written/drawn in UV paint which are invisible until your torch finds them. This show is about exploring and interpreting for yourself; personal experiences and interaction with the Arctic.
Firstly, you reach a corridor with a timeline of all the key moments in the history of the Arctic. These events are of historical, ecological and political importance.
The show feels like a labyrinth of sugar cubes and white towers. It feels very reminiscent of Rachel Whiteread's exhibit at the Turbine Hall in Tate Modern. These towers represent glaciers and on top of each, lies their name. I enjoyed walking around, getting lost in the Arctic and trying to understand and pronounce the strange and alien names of the ice glaciers. In and amongst these glaciers, lies digital floor projections which can be interacted with torches. You can melt ice and create snow storms.
This was an innovative experiment. The exhibition brought awareness to the Arctic visually without large amounts of text, research and reading. However, the show only lasted about 20 minutes, there was only one room and not alot of variety. It was a one trick piece, and my disappointment showed. The Arctic is an important piece of the Earth and its survival is of the upmost importance. This show allowed me to connect with the Arctic, therefore, as apiece of activism, it worked tremendously well. However, as an art exhibtion, it fell flat. My eyes wanted variety, they wanted the show to do more.