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May 23, 2007

Lucy and Jorge Orta


Antarctic Village

From February-March 2007, Antarctic Village - No Borders, was installed in Antarctica by the artists. They travelled from Buenos Aires aboard the Hercules KC130 flight on an incredible journey lasting several weeks. Taking place during the Austral summer, the ephemeral installation coincided with the last of the scientific expeditions before the winter months, before the ice mass becomes too thick to traverse. Aided by the logisitical crew and scientists stationed at the Marambio Antarctic Base situated on the Seymour-Marambio Island, (64°14’S 56°37’W), Jorge Orta scouted Antarctica by helicopter, searching for different locations for the temporary encampment of their 50 dome-shaped dwellings.

Antarctic Village is a symbol of the plight of those struggling to transverse borders and to gain the freedom of movement necessary to escape political and social conflict. Dotted along the ice, the tents formed a settlement reminiscent of the images of refugee camps we see so often reported about on our television screens and newspapers (official figures estimate that 141 foreigners have died trying to reach Spain in 2004, Human Rights claim the death toll was 289. 58 Chinese people discovered dead through dehydration by customs officers in the back of an articulated lorry in Dover UK in June 2000, etc., etc.)

Physically the installation Antarctic Village in Antarctica is emblematic of Ortas’ body of work, composed of what could be termed modular architecture and reflecting qualities of nomadic shelters and campsites. The dwellings themselves are hand stitched together by a traditional tent maker with sections of flags from countries around the world, along with extensions of clothes and gloves, symbolising the multiplicity and diversity of people. Here the arm of face-less whitecollar worker’s shirt hangs, there the sleeve of a children’s sweater. Together the flags and dissected clothes emblazened with silkscreen motifs referencing the UN Declartion for Human Rights, make for a physical embodiment of a 'Global Village'.


Antarctic Village - Metisse Flag: By way of calling the Orta Antarctic expedition to an end, the artists staged the first in a series of symbolic football games, ‘Heads or Tails, Tails or Heads’. Meteorologists, paleontologists and geologists from the Marambio Antarctic Base joined the Orta team to play a symbolic ‘All Nation’ match. The Metisse Flag and the Antarctic football shirts, created by the artists make it difficult to identify the adversary. The front and back of the players' shirts are stitched together with different countries’ football team colours. The match mirrors human behaviour. Appearances are often deceiving. Someone we think is a friend may actually be playing against us, while a total stranger can surprise us with an act of solidarity. It is not appearances that count, but rather decisive actions in critical moments.

Also see:

Antarctic Village - No Borders, Expedition Tarpaulin
Antarctic Village - Dome Dwelling 5005 and more.


Posted by jo at May 23, 2007 06:46 PM