Anna’s Cab­i­net of Cu­riosi­ties: From the Se­ries ‘Pages From the Book of the Un­known Ex­plorer’

Symposium:


Session Title:

  • New Environmental Art Practices on Landscapes of the Polar Regions; Politics, Emotion and Culture (FARFIELD 1)

Presentation Title:

  • Anna’s Cab­i­net of Cu­riosi­ties: From the Se­ries ‘Pages From the Book of the Un­known Ex­plorer’

Presenter(s):



Abstract:

  • Panel: New Environmental Art Practices on Landscapes of the Polar Regions; Politics, Emotion and Culture (FARFIELD 1)

    This per­for­mance lec­ture is based on Judit Her­sko’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with sci­en­tists and her ex­pe­ri­ence in Antarc­tica as a re­cip­i­ent of the Na­tional Sci­ence Foun­da­tion Antarc­tic Artists and Writ­ers Grant. Her­sko ex­am­ines polar ex­plo­ration and sci­ence from the per­spec­tive of a fic­ti­tious, un­known, fe­male ex­plorer, Anna Schwartz, who trav­els to Antarc­tica with the 1939 Byrd Antarc­tic ex­pe­di­tion. Her­sko in­serts Anna’s char­ac­ter into real events and sci­en­tific quests, thereby spawn­ing a nar­ra­tive that re­flects on the ab­sence of women from the his­tory of Antarc­tic ex­plo­ration and sci­ence until the late 1960s.

    She pre­sents a lay­ered story that ad­dresses the his­tory of Carte­sian sci­ence as well as cur­rent cli­mate change data in the con­text of pre­sent eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal re­al­i­ties, while her in­ser­tion of alter egos such as Anna Schwartz, who con­nect closely and per­son­ally with the polar land­scape, ren­der the sci­en­tific data emo­tion­ally en­gag­ing. Anna Schwartz is a pho­tog­ra­pher and a nat­u­ral­ist ob­sessed with the mi­cro­scopic and trans­par­ent plank­tonic snail the Li­macina he­lic­ina and its preda­tor the Clione antarc­tica. Her in­ti­mate re­la­tion­ship with these tiny crea­tures is in con­trast to the heroic no­tions of ex­plo­ration of her day, while iron­i­cally, her focus on the minute and in­vis­i­ble lay­ers of the Antarc­tic land­scape is more rel­e­vant to cur­rent re­search in polar sci­ence. These plank­tonic snails, stud­ied by Her­sko’s col­lab­o­ra­tor, bi­o­log­i­cal oceanog­ra­pher Dr. Vic­to­ria Fabry, func­tion as ca­naries in the coal mine when it comes to ocean acid­i­fi­ca­tion – one of the most in­sid­i­ous as­pects of an­thro­pogenic cli­mate change that is rapidly al­ter­ing the food chain and ecol­ogy of the oceans.

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