I’m excited and overwhelmed to be invited by The Arctic Circle 2013 to join a group of artists and scientists aboard a 150-foot tall ship in the Arctic Ocean, exploring the Svalbard archipelago, just ten degrees from the North Pole, for a period of about two weeks over the summer solstice.
My writing tends to focus on spectacular failures, lives lived in extremis, and alternate ways of thinking about history, preservation and loss, and I’ll be participating on this voyage as part of a longer project researching the history of the Northwest Passage. I’ve long been moved by the countless narratives of those explorers and entrepreneurs who plunged so bravely into certain failure and likely death in a quest for a navigable trade route through the Arctic Circle that lasted for several centuries. Now, as we’re witnessing the birth pangs of an environmental apocalypse in the guise of global warming, the Northwest Passage has perversely taken on a new life. Carbon emissions have sadly done what previous explorers could not—create a navigable Northwest Passage. My goal with this trip is to research and write about this place which has formed a locus of so many failed dreams, and which, long forgotten, now once again presents itself as an opportunity. What once spoke to nature’s mastery over man’s hubris now suggests environmental disaster and human folly, and the cost it wreaks on those last reaches of the earth.
In addition, I’m undertaking this voyage in partnership with Machine Project, a non-profit alternative art space in Los Angeles, investigates the intersection of art, natural history and literature, among many other interests. In the past few years Machine Project has branched out, undertaking installations, performances, and lectures in places as diverse as Minneapolis and Miami, and while on this trip I’ll be acting as Machine Project’s North Pole Correspondent, offering the northernmost latitude lecture ever given by Machine Project, and curating an Archive of Banishment and an Archive of Preservation while I’m in Svalbard.
Funding this project will allow you to participate in these Machine Project-related events, and you can also receive whatever strange writings are birthed by this obsession, either in the form of my unprocessed notebook, or a unique story/essay written exclusively for you.
(Photo Credit: Janet Biggs, 2009)
(Video Animation: Nicole Antebi)
Risks and challenges
Because The Arctic Circle is a well-established program, there’s little risk involved (likelihood of being eaten by bears is fairly low), though at this point in my writing process, it’s not at all clear to me what final form any writing I do will take. But that’s part of the fun, I suppose, of being involved so early on in the process!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)