Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Antarctopia

Walking into the first Antarctica Pavilion in the 14th International Architecture Biennale Venice, waterproof flight cases display models of visionary Antarctic projects many considering the challenge of designing for an environment that is still so new and uninhabited. For a Curator Nadim Samman writing about towards the Antarctica Biennale says, ‘no ring for it on the Olympic flag and no pavilion in the Giardini. The only continent without a biennale. Has its art history been written? It is only a matter of time’[1]. Writer Gabrielle Walker calls Antarctica, ‘the living metaphor’ where, ‘the continent lacks most of the normal ways that we interact in human societies. There is no need for money; everyone wears the same clothes and has the same kind of lodging’[2]. So Samman’s question about the role of art practice and by association the role of the architect is relevant, as concepts of home are not obvious, yet each of the exhibits are some type of dwelling, where as Shane McCorristine states, ‘homeliness was performed through winter rituals of comfort-eating and snugness. It was by these means that physical spaces of inhabitation were transformed into homes – that is filled with narratives, memories.’ For McCorristine, Cape Evans site of the last Christmas Feast of Robert F Scott in 1911 on his fateful last expedition is, ‘by virtue of Scott’s uncanny absence / presence, has become the primal Antarctic home’, as the, ‘signs of absent inhabitants have been preserved and this has transformed the hut into a site of pilgrimage and commemoration – becoming a symbol of Antarctic homeliness, but not somewhere one can live’[3]





[1] Samman, N. “Antarctopia” (Ocean Fund Projects AVC Charity Foundation 2014)

[2] Walker, G. “Antarctica An Intimate Portrait of the World’s Most Mysterious Continent” (Bloomsbury 2012)

[3] McCorristine, S. “What Shall We Call it?: Performing Home in Antarctica” (Ocean Fund Projects AVC Charity Foundation 2014)

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