Stranded, Dredge and Regulator are sculptural works examining notions of imbalance within a warming Arctic marine ecosystem and its geopolitical territory.
Often, our first glimmer of environmental harm is that something seems out of place. Stranded, looming nine feet tall speaks of a fragile equilibrium. Cast from a single cetacean vertebrae its skeleton has no definition, no distinct tail or ribcage, no scapula or skull. Weathered, as if dug from an icy grave, an untimely death, we question its spinal deformity. The height of Standed coincides with the length of a female beluga, yet this hybrid marine organism takes on mythological proportions. As if a display specimen for comparative anatomy, its upright orientation also speaks of a personal narrative. Witnessing a beluga whale kept in a small aquarium pool, her body was positioned vertically in the water. For hours she would slowly spiral upward, drift down, spiral up. Over and over, trapped within her space.
There are multiple hazards to the precarious balance for Arctic marine life due to human impacts and climate change. Bioaccumulation and biomagnifications of pollutants and micro plastics is prevalent in whales. The high solubility of CO2 in cold-water temperatures means acidity levels are rising at twice the rate of the southern oceans. The resultant chemistry threatens the structural integrity of shellfish. As depicted in Dredge, their dissolving shells and subsequent mortality is having a negative impact on a short vulnerable food chain. Stranded, left behind, in a pace of uncertainty.
Regulator, posing as an antique wall clock, its hands stilled at minutes to midnight, captures this essence to hold back time. It insinuates notions to regulate or to control. The clock face encompasses the territory north of the Arctic Circle. Countries extending beyond this line are hand drawn in white ink, seemingly floating on the fragile paper surface. There are no indication of states or borders, no names to locate a fixed point. Arrows define currents and gyres transecting the pole, regulators of climate lost in an open sea. In absence of a pendulum, a tray from a scientific balance suspends, motionless; a mirrored surface proffering a replica of a battleship originating from a childhood game board. Its reflection poses as a tiny misplaced iceberg. Beneath the tray, a thin pulsing vein of blue light coils down within a glass funnel to flow out the V-shaped bottom, as through the hull of a ship. It terminates with a plumb knob dangling just off the floor making reference to transit instruments or processes and sensory apparatus for ocean mapping and data collection.
While Russia redevelops military bases, the United States increases northern capabilities. Though most regard the North West Passage as International, Canada sees it as domestic waterways, asserting its naval presence. Asian and Nordic states are part of this highly strategic geopolitical positioning. Regulatoraddresses these issues of sovereignty and security in a warming Arctic, being reframed by Indigenous claims. Hanging in the balance, this eminent ‘ticking clock’ is set. The pulsing light, a warning.