ANTARCTICA brings together three extraordinary series of works from artists Joyce Campbell, Anne Noble, and Connie Samaras on the subject of Antarctica, the most extreme continent on the planet. Recipients of distinguished artist residencies — Campbell and Noble awarded the New Zealand Artists to Antarctica program and Samaras the U.S. National Science Foundation’s Artists and Writers Program — enabled them to photograph and experience first hand the severe and almost inhuman conditions of Antarctica. Each artist’s work approaches the subject with differing yet overlapping critical frameworks creating a rich transcultural dialogue that seeks to de-exoticize a landscape that has been romanticized, idealized, and made epic.
With their physically immersive scale and unique objecthood, Campbell’s photographs are formulated to be historically and physically compelling objects rather than images of places or things. Campbell approached Antarctica as something vast, savage, and primordial. She used anachronistic photographic technologies including Daguerreotype, that was outmoded by the mid-nineteenth century invention of silver halide emulsion and which had never been practiced on that continent before.
Samaras’ photographs, Vast Active Living Intelligence System, shot at the South Pole as well as her videos shot in other Antarctic locations, depict the liminal space between life-support architecture and extreme environment. Interested in ideas of speculative landscape, science fiction, psychological dislocation, and the political geographies underpinning fantasies of space exploration, her work frames the paradoxical relationships inherent in attempts to colonize a space resistant to human habitation.
Since 2002, Anne Noble has been considering the cultural origins of the Antarctic imaginary and how this contributes to a sense of place. Her project Whiteout, explores representation of the landscape at the point where perception and cognition founders. In other projects, whether from the decks of Antarctic tourist ships or traveling around to the world to photograph dioramas of Antarctica, she critiques the framing of the Antarctic landscape as picturesque, heroic and sublime.