Artworks by Simon Faithfull from his journey to Antarctica
Ice Blink is a term referring to a white glare that appears on the underside of low clouds in sub-zero sea conditions, indicating the presence of ice beyond the range of vision, and warning ships to be on guard.
Artist Simon Faithfull was invited to travel to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey as part of The Arts Council’s International Fellowships Programme. Departing from RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire he travelled on to the Falklands via Ascension Island, where he joined scientists on board the ice-strengthened ship RSS Ernest Shackleton. On its way south to Antarctica, the ship broke its way through expanses of sea-ice, passing icebergs, ice cliffs and uninhabited islands heading for the science-fiction-like Halley Research Station perched on stilts above the empty, white wilderness.
Surrounded by inhospitable conditions outside of the vessel the crew within lived their own set conventions and references that had developed over years of exploration, independent of the changing society in the external world.
Ice Blink was an exhibition of work from this incredible journey; daily drawings made on a palm pilot etched onto glass; a poetic film of a whaling station populated with seals, photographs that defy perceptions of scale; films of the view through the porthole redolent with a Sokurov-like quality of light; experiments with weather balloons; and a performative lecture highlighting the myths of Antarctica and the realities of how the climate change has shifted this archetypal remote location.
Antarctica is a mythical location that has captured the imagination of many, and whose reality defies known perceptions of scale and experience. It is the location where the effects of global warming can be physically experienced and where the remote becomes an identifiable place.
Antarctica is a site tied up with a sense of British identity: a territory far from these shores that conjures legends of great explorers and journeys.
The Antarctica series is an incredible body of work that is filled with a poetics and politics of space, place, and perceptions.
Travelling to Antarctica on RSS Ernest Shackleton from RAF Brize Norton via Ascension Island and the Falklands, Simon Faithfull recorded the displaced and disorienting world he encountered by filming the view out of his cabin porthole and with daily Palm Pilot drawings, transmitted each day to email inboxes around the world. Combined with diary entries and notes, these drawing and films have been incorporated into a series of lectures presented in Edinburgh, Helsinki, Norwich, Berlin and London.
Reproduced in book form, Ice Blink: An Antarctic Essay was published as part of Book Works Opus Projects (Opus 6) by Book Works and The Arts Catalyst and edited by Lisa Le Feuvre.
ISBN 978 1 870699 92
Printed offset in an edition of 1,500 copies, full colour, 128 pages, with a soft cover.
Designed by Practise/James Goggin.
164 x 215mm. 1
Simon Faithfull’s work often involves elements of failure and anti-heroism. Journeys and travelling are also central to his practice. In a series of experiments conducted over ten years (1995–2005), Faithfull sought to defy gravity with his ‘Escape vehicles’. On September 12 2004, Escape Vehicle No.6 started as a live event commissioned by The Arts Catalyst for its first International Artists Airshow. In December 2004, Faithfull was invited to travel to Antarctica with the British Antarctic Survey as part of The Arts Council’s International Fellowships Programme. This journey culminated in a series of exhibitions in London, New York and Edinburgh, and was published in a text entitled Ice Blink: An Antarctic Essay. In 2007, Faithfull was involved in the symposium, POLAR: The Art & Science of Climate Change. In 2008, Simon Faithfull produced an essay for the Bipolar publication alongside 30 other essays submitted by participants in the Polar programme. Bipolar encourages us to consider how our knowledge of the polar regions is constructed and can be enriched.