Interviews

Glimpsing the Arctic: A Conversation with Artist Mariele Neudecker

Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images, Interviews | 0 comments

Glimpsing the Arctic: A Conversation with Artist Mariele Neudecker

Spread the News:ShareMany people may never see a glacier or an iceberg up close, given issues of cost, inaccessibility and environmental changes. Yet artist Mariele Neudecker is making the experience a bit more accessible, as she transports a vision of the Arctic to galleries and museum floors. Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, the 51-year-old lifelong artist now resides in Bristol, where she creates sculptures, photographs, films and paintings.  Over the past 20 years, Neudecker has produced a wide range of landscape and still life artwork, much of which seeks to capture the essence of glaciers and icebergs. Recently, a selection of Neudecker’s Arctic-focused art was the center of her exhibit, Some Things Happen All At Once, at the Zeppelin Museum in Friedrichshafen, Germany.  Additionally, four copies of her photographs were featured at Project Pressure’s Outdoor Installation, which GlacierHub recently covered in August. In an interview with GlacierHub, Neudecker walks us through the journey behind her glacier artwork.  A condensed and edited version of the conversation follows.   GH:  I understand the Zeppelin Museum installation is not the first project you have done focusing on glaciers. MN: I have done a lot of work with [19th century landscape painter] Caspar David Friedrich paintings and converting them into 3D tank pieces.  The first one I did in 1997 was clearly using ice in a reference to his painting “Sea of Ice.”   GH: What attracted you to ice and glacier themed art back in 1997, when you first incorporated Arctic ice elements into your artwork? MN: It [my work] was more of an exploration of landscapes. I looked at mountains, forests and the ocean.  However, I always thought the remoteness and difficulty to imagine the Arctic created an interesting perception… It is about the subject of glaciers and the Arctic, but fundamentally it’s about perceptions and how we have longings to be somewhere else.  You can transport people to other places through paintings, films and all sorts of artwork. The Arctic has always been a metaphor for climate change and human shortcomings, so there are a lot of cliché images of glaciers representing the environment.  That has provoked me to add other layers to that representation.  The challenge is to avoid the clichés.   GH:  What was the most difficult feeling to capture that you wanted to convey to viewers? MN: I wanted to hint at the unknown and to highlight that all we see are little fragments of something much bigger.  It’s hard to capture the feeling of standing in massive open spaces where you are trapped in your eye sockets and you must turn your head to take it all in. It’s similar to deep sea projects I have done, where the camera is in the black depths of the ocean and only with artificial light can you see a fraction of the spaces. You know how massive the space is, but you only see a tiny piece of it.   GH: What was the most surprising to you when you were out in the field capturing glaciers? MN: The sound! That really threw me. I had no idea how loud they were.  Camping on the side of a glacier the silence and then the sounds that interrupted that silence were so powerful.  I’ve seen a million images of glaciers, but no one told me about the sounds. I tried to record them but I wasn’t able to capture it well.  That would be a future project I would love to do.   GH: Before you went to Greenland, all of your Arctic work was derived from images and paintings....

Read More

Walking to the Mountain, Dancing at the Shrines: An Andean Pilgrimage

Posted by on Aug 9, 2016 in Art/Culture, Communities, Experiences, Featured Posts, Interviews, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Walking to the Mountain, Dancing at the Shrines: An Andean Pilgrimage

Spread the News:ShareZoila Mendoza, an anthropologist and the chair of the Department of Native American Studies at the University of California, Davis, is also the producer of a documentary recorded in the high Andes of Peru. “The Pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of the Lord of Qoyllur Rit’i: The Walk Experience,” first released in February 2015, has won five honors, including a 2016 International Gold Award for Documentary and Short International Movie Awards, held in Jakarta earlier this month. Mendoza’s film provides a detailed view of the largest pilgrimage in the Andes. Each spring, about 50,000 people, many of them indigenous Quechua, travel to the sanctuary of the Señor de Qoyllur Rit’i in the Cusco region of Peru, located at 4,800 meters above sea level at the foot of a glacier. At this site, they perform ritual dances and pay homage to the miraculous image of Christ on a rock and to the mountain itself, the glacier-covered Qollqepunku. Mendoza accompanied villagers from the community of Pomacanchi on three different annual pilgrimages, as they walked the 135 kilometers from their home village to the sanctuary. This journey takes three days and two nights, and leads them over four high passes. Her video shows the continuous music of flute and drums that accompanies the entire pilgrimage, as well as the dances in Pomacanchi, at points on the path to the shrine, and at the shrine itself. The film documents the integration of sounds, sight and movement that together compose the pilgrimage experience. With its close-up view of a group of pilgrims, showing the heavy loads they carry on the journey and the long hours of vigorous dancing, it conveys the depth of their devotion of the pilgrims to the saints and mountains. In an email interview, Mendoza discussed the production of her documentary with GlacierHub. GlacierHub: Though many people who have described the pilgrimage of Qoyllur Rit’i emphasize the importance of dance, you have subtitled your film “The walk experience.” Why do you place such importance on walking? What relations do you see between walking and dancing? Zoila Mendoza: This was a result of my experience with the people of Pomacanchi, for whom doing the walk itself was the most important aspect of the whole pilgrimage. Walking has been the way of travel for Andeans for millennia, the same word is used in Quechua for “walking” and “traveling”: puriy. Even today, with the available motorized vehicles, many Quechua-speaking people in the countryside still spend several hours a day walking to go to their fields, herding their animals, etc. As I argue at length in my articles, the walk to Qoyllur Rit’i is carried out with the incessant music of flute and drum so, even at moments of rest and of introspection, the music is always there. There is a tune for walking and one for worshiping and saluting. The walk has also a choreography since it has to be done in a single file with the icons and flags in front and the music in the back. The whole musical walk can be considered a “dance” to the sanctuary.   GH: Your film depicts other bodily movements in addition to walking and dancing. In particular, you show the importance of two other bodily gestures: carrying heavy items, such as rocks and pottery icons that represent chapels, and kneeling in front of sacred sites or along paths. What do these gestures represent? ZM: The participants use the same gestures to salute and pay homage to the sacred images and to the mountains. Carrying rocks uphill and unloading them is a way to kinesthetically level or flatten the ground (pampachay in...

Read More

First global analysis of the societal impacts of glacier floods

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in All Posts, Communities, Featured Posts, Interviews, Science | 0 comments

First global analysis of the societal impacts of glacier floods

Spread the News:ShareTwo British researchers recently published the first global inventory and damage assessment of the societal consequences incurred by glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs). They revealed that glacial lake outburst floods (GLOFs) have been declining in frequency since the mid-1990s, with the majority released by ice dam failures. Glacial hazard specialists Jonathan Carrivick and Fiona Tweed spent 18 months scouring the records of over 1,348 GLOFs, determining that such floods have definitely claimed over 12,400 lives since the medieval period. Their work stems from a need to strengthen data on glacier lakes. “There was very very little quantitative data out there on the importance of glacier lakes, from a societal point of view,” Carrivick said in an interview with GlacierHub. He explained that this recent paper was a natural progression from his earlier research, which focused on modelling hydrological, geological and geomorphological processes. Based purely on frequency, Carrivick and Tweed found that north-west North America (mainly Alaska), the European Alps (mainly Switzerland), and Iceland are the “most susceptible regions” to GLOFs. However, the impacts of these events have have often been minimal, as they occur in sparsely populated, remote regions, and in places where resilience is high. The greatest damage has been inflicted upon Nepal and Switzerland — respectively accounting for 22 percent and 17 percent of the global total damage reported. When Carrivick applied the normalized ‘Damage Index,’ which considered GDPs of the affected country (used as a crude proxy for ability to mitigate, manage and recover), he found that Iceland, Bhutan and Nepal have suffered the “greatest national-level economic consequences of glacier flood impacts.” Historically, Asian and South American GLOFs have been the deadliest, taking the lives of 6,300 and 5,745 individuals since 1560 respectively. However, these figures are dominated by only two catastrophes, which accounted for 88 percent of the 12,445 fatalities confirmed by Carrivick and Tweed. The first, in December 1941, saw over 5,000 Peruvians perish in Huaraz, when a landslide cascaded into the glacial Lake Palcacocha. The second event, swept away more than 6,000 Indians from across Uttarakhand in June 2013, as torrential rains triggered outburst floods and landslides. The study’s authors adopted a method for normalizing damage assessments new to GLOF hazard analysis, striving to fairly compare the cataclysmic impacts of outburst flooding on communities around the world. They found that there has actually been a decline in number of floods since the 1990s, which was surprising to the researchers, given that a 2013 study which they had conducted found that the number and size of glacial lakes has increased, as the world’s ice masses have wasted. Carrivick stated that he was “very interested in the fact that, apparently, so few glaciers have lakes that have burst [0.7% of the total], on a global scale.” He added, “it beggars belief that there isn’t a higher percentage of those lakes that have burst at some point.” In their paper, the pair suggest that the “apparent decline” could be attributed to improved successful stabilisation efforts, natural resilience, greater awareness and preparedness in threatened communities, or declined number of GLOFs from ice-dammed lakes. An additional factor may be that some glacial floods are missing from the English-language record. Carrivick revealed, “We have a contact in China who says that there’s a lot of unpublished floods…that individual has not been able to send us the data yet.” Government restrictions on the flow of potentially sensitive information has contributed to this partial release of data. Carrivick also noted that new data is continually being published, in many cases in foreign languages. He referenced a recent issue of the Geological Journal, which...

Read More

Nature Meets Technology with Artist Dan Holdsworth

Posted by on Jul 19, 2016 in All Posts, Art/Culture, Featured Posts, Images, Interviews | 0 comments

Nature Meets Technology with Artist Dan Holdsworth

Spread the News:ShareFor the last fifteen years, British photographer Dan Holdsworth has been blending nature, science, and technology into large-scale photographs and digital art. Much of his work focuses on glacial landscapes. Holdsworth’s major solo exhibition, “Dan Holdsworth: A Future Archaeology,” is currently premiering at the Scheublein + Bak Gallery in Zurich as part of his Continuous Topography series through September 2. Using high-end 3D imaging software ordinarily only used in scientific or military capacities, Holdsworth renders glacial landscapes in the Alps with extraordinary, unprecedented 3D precision.   Holdsworth spoke with GlacierHub about his early childhood influences, “the sublime,” and his efforts to capture Icelandic glaciers.   GlacierHub: What fieldwork did you conduct to create the images featured in this exhibit? Dan Holdsworth: For the last three years, I’ve been working with a PhD researcher named Mark Allen from Northumbria University in Newcastle [in the United Kingdom]. The first fieldwork we undertook together, three years ago now, was in the Mont Blanc massif, working on glaciers around Mont Blanc, on both the French and Italian sides. I spent initially two months there, surveying both terrestrially, with drones and by a helicopter using GPS recordings on the ground and data sampling, [and using] a huge sampling of photography surveying–usually several hundred photographs for each location.   GH: What drew you to glaciers as a subject? DH: My interest in landscape and interest in technology and human impacts on our environment. I’ve always been drawn to areas that have a tension, an edge. In my very early work, it was focused on city edges, where you see this view of humanity and nature kind of hitting each other. For me, obviously glacial landscapes have a similar aspect in terms of this edge of the human traction on glaciers. The images of glaciers are transmitted all around the globe as a symbol of climate change. In 2000, I went to Iceland for the first time, and I visited glacial landscapes in Iceland. In 2001, I started photographing a glacier called Solheimajökull, which was predominately, at that time, black, with volcanic debris melting out from the glacier. It appeared to have a very interesting tension with the industrial. This object is a byproduct of the Industrial Revolution. I went back every year for almost ten years and photographed the same location, not to document it exactly that precisely, but to more explore my relationship with it and my responses as it was changing and melting. I then subsequently made prints, which I made digital inversions of. When I made the photographs, I would always make them on a completely white-out day, and you’d see this black object in this white space.  In the final work, I made this circular realization by inverting the photograph and restoring the glacier to white. The sky becomes the black of space, so you have this immediate planetary transformation in the image.   GH: Your art blends technology with nature and science very seamlessly. What inspired this connection in your work? DH: My father was a physicist who studied in Bristol and then at the Max Planck Institute. He was a polymer physicist, and developed processes to metalize plastics. One of the companies he worked with was based in the States and he was developing coatings for space shuttles. So there were always these interesting sides of technology that I was being brought up with. Often you’d see these kinds of developments of technology, like a ghost of my dad’s work [like] some kind of metalized plastic in some food packaging, and back in the 1980s, you’d think, ‘There’s no...

Read More

Photo Friday: Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier

Posted by on Jul 1, 2016 in All Posts, Experiences, Featured Posts, Images, Interviews | 1 comment

Photo Friday: Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier

Spread the News:ShareIt started with a road trip. A “bucket-list trip,” according to Tish  Millard, a photographer from Prince Rupert, Canada. Millard and her husband decided to drive the over 4,660 miles there-and-back, along the the Alaskan and Dalton highways to “dance in the Midnight Sun,” as she puts it. They passed through Fairbanks, Anchorage, Valdez, Wasilla, and crossing into the Arctic Circle, before arriving at Matanuska. Speaking to GlacierHub, Millard said that her passion for glaciers came from her time in the unique town of Stewart-Hyder, and visits to the nearby Salmon Glacier. Remarkably, is the only land border crossing where a person may legally enter the United States without reporting for inspection, as the settlement spans the American-Canadian border. Matanuska is 27 miles long, and over 4 miles wide – making it the largest glacier in America that can be reached by vehicle. Remarking on her first reactions upon arriving at the terminus of Matanuska, Millard said she was “transfixed by the glacier’s beauty.” But it was the creaks, cracks, rumblings, and groans coming from the glacier which made their greatest impression – “The noises it made were mystical.” To top off the “unforgettable experience,” Matanuska was the first glacier Millard had ever walked on – she described it as “surreal.” The surface of the glacier is a beautiful pale blue, mantled by snow and streaks of black soot – detritus blown across the state from wildfires. It is heavily crevassed, which can make certain traverses challenging and dangerous. Deeper into the glacier, climbers from Anchorage regularly clamber up hundreds of feet of jagged pinnacles of ice. Three-and-a-half trillion tons of water have melted from Alaska’s glaciers since the 1950s, according the USGS. And they are unlikely to recover this year, as Spring temperatures averaged a sweltering 89.6°F – warmer than Washington D.C. Jake Weltzin, a phenologist with the USGS, commented that this year has “turned the state into a melting pot, almost literally.” Historically, the Matanuska has been little affected by rising temperatures over the past 30 years, and consistently advances approximately one foot each day. However, with consistent record-breaking temperatures, early onset of the melt season, and lowering surface albedo thanks to the deposited wildfire debris, the this may be the year that significant retreat begins. Spread the...

Read More

John Kerry Sees ‘Center of Climate Change’ On Norwegian Glacier Visit

Posted by on Jun 22, 2016 in All Posts, Featured Posts, Interviews, News, Policy and Economics | 0 comments

John Kerry Sees ‘Center of Climate Change’ On Norwegian Glacier Visit

Spread the News:ShareJohn Kerry, the United States Secretary of State, visited a glacier recently in Svalbard, Norway, as part of his travels to meetings in the Nordic countries. He was accompanied by his counterpart, the Norwegian Foreign Minister Børge Brende. The experience of seeing retreating glaciers and shrinking sea ice impressed him. On his Twitter account, he wrote, “Witnessed the effects of #climatechange firsthand w/ @borgebrende in #Svalbard while touring Blomstrand glacier.” While aboard a research vessel near Ny Ålesund, a scientific base in Svalbard, he said, “This is the center of change within the center of change.” He commented on climate change actions, “The steps that people are taking are not big enough fast enough. We have a huge distance to travel.” As he does on nearly all his trips, Kerry combined a number of activities and purposes during this visit to Norway. He participated in the Oslo Forum, a meeting of world leaders that seeks to mediate and reduce conflicts, and met separately with the Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg for bilateral talks. They reviewed the situation in Syria and Iraq, and discussed the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw, to be held early in July. This is a particularly important meeting for Norway, which is a charter member of NATO, though it does not belong to the European Union. For many, its location brings to mind the Warsaw Pact, the mutual defense treaty between the Soviet Union and the Communist countries of eastern Europe which served as a counterpart to NATO during the Cold War from 1955 to 1991. While in Oslo, Kerry also spoke at a conference on deforestation, at which the American and Norwegian governments released a joint statement on Deeper Collaboration on Forests and Climate Change, affirming their commitment to Paris Agreement, stating their support of forests as carbon sinks, and discussing other issues such as aviation emissions. He then continued from Norway to Denmark for discussions with the prime minister and foreign minister; after that, he traveled to Ilulissat, Greenland, where he visited Jacobshavn Glacier, met with Greenlandic and Danish officials and conferred about climate issues in the Arctic. Danish sources reported that they also discussed the management of Thule, an American air force base in Greenland. The Arctic’s importance to geopolitics In an email interview. Rasmus Bertelsen, a political scientist at UiT-The Arctic University of Norway, emphasized the strategic aspects of Kerry’s visit, and its link to regional and global geopolitics. “Kerry’s visits to Svalbard and Greenland reflect the superpower of the international system with global interests and engagements, also in the Arctic. The Arctic has for a long time been an integral part of the international political, economic and security system. Think of the Murmansk convoys of the Second World War or the strategic nuclear weapons and distant early warning systems during the Cold War. Svalbard commands the Barents Sea, and Greenland is important for missile defense,” Bertelsen wrote. He continued: “Climate change highlights that the Arctic is also key to the global earth system, which is of strategic importance to the superpower whether its energy system or its vulnerability to climate change. From the perspective of the hosts, the two small Nordic Arctic states of the Kingdom of Denmark and the Kingdom of Norway, what is most striking is their inability to publicly coordinate and highlight these visits by the US Secretary of State. All the five Nordic small states are Arctic states, and the Arctic is another obvious arena for them for joint impactful action, which is unfortunately not realized.” During a trip to Oslo, Secretary @JohnKerry met with PM @erna_solberg &...

Read More