Intrepid Explorations of Polar Extremes

So I’m not sure what to make of this, but in conversation after Big Art Group’s THE SLEEP the other night I was ruminating on how many projects of late are dealing with arctic (or antarctic) exploration. THE SLEEP is based on a story about a journey to the North Pole, Phantom Limb Company is currently working on a piece about the Shackleton Expedition, DJ Spooky just did his Antarctica piece at BAM and Los Angeles-based performance outfit Cloud Eye Control is touring a show, Under Polaris, that charts an epic journey across a vast arctic expanse.

What is it that is fascinating artists about these extreme adventures? Maybe it is due in part to a growing awareness of climate change and how that manifests. But maybe, also, possibly, there is some kind of underlying yearning to understand exploration, a need for imagining undiscovered countries, a need to discover the spirit of adventure that pushes us to the boundaries of experience? I’m not sure.  Maybe it is just coincidence.

But we live, as they say, in interesting times, where boundaries are both dissolving and being redrawn. The known world is shrinking even as it becomes, in some ways, less knowable. We have an overload of information but it is harder and harder to get a “big picture” perspective. Maybe these artists are tapping into some kind of zeitgeist of exploration – a desire we have to re-map an ever-shifting world, to re-contextualize reality by finding out what exists at the outer edges of experience.

Thoughts? Discuss.

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