Antarctica and the Arctic are poignant markers of the impact of climate change in the 21st Century. While there is a growing awareness of the fragility of these environments, photography continues to project an image of heroic untouched wilderness that is often unwittingly informed by 19th and 20th century European literary narratives and visual conventions. In this presentation I will discuss the development and resolution of two Antarctic photographic projects, Whiteout / White Noise, and Bitch in Slippers, both outcomes of a search for new images and metaphors that provide a critical and imaginative frame through which to consider the fragility of the world’s natural biological systems and our part in their rapid transformation.
WhiteOut / WhiteNoise is the culmination of a sustained reflection on human perception and cognition of the Antarctic landscape. Formulated in response to Herbert Ponting’s declaration that there was little to photograph in the wide white space of the polar plateau, this series of forty photographs of Antarctic light and space speak to the lineage of heroic age imagery and narratives while offering an aesthetic of fragility – as a closer match to both the frailty of human perception and the fragility of Antarctica itself.
Bitch in Slippers, is a series of photograph of Antarctic vehicles decorated with girls names. Like the those gracing war planes and battle ships this series of photographs reveals the ongoing gendered nature of our relation to place, the inscription of place through language, and a vibrant palette of colours and surfaces that points to the grand imperial project still underway in Antarctica today.
In this presentation I will examine the relationship between photography and language in the creation of a critical photographic response to an environment at risk.
Anne Noble (New Zealand) is Distinguished Professor of Fine Arts (Photography) at Massey University, Wellington. Her lens based practice spans landscape, documentary, and installations that incorporate both still and moving images. Antarctica has been a focus over the last decade, an extension of her interest in how perception and cognition contribute to a sense of place. She has made three visits to Antarctica, the most recent in 2008, to complete three photographic book and exhibition projects: Ice Blink (2011), The Last Road (2014), and Whiteout / Whitenoise(forthcoming 2016). In 2009 she received an Arts Foundation Laureate award in recognition of her contribution to the visual arts in New Zealand. She was the recipient of a 2014 Fulbright Senior Scholar Award. Her current still photographic and video installation projects are concerned with the decline of the honeybee and human relationships to natural biological systems