From A Diary in Antarctica* by Wakana Kono**
From A Diary on 19 March on the vessel
…Sofia gave me an envelope fromAustralian artist Tom Blake, who will show his project at the Antarctic Pavilion during the 57th Venice Biennale of Art. I met Tom in January in Tokyo, when he was invited to the artist in residence in Hokkaido. He told me about his wonderful project. In March Tom sent me many mysterious envelopes for his project and I travelled with them to Ushuaia, gave them to Sofia, then Sofia gave back me an envelope. When I opened it, I found a beautifully designed letter, which asked to write a “diary” with words from the attached list or draw a drawing. Tom will show our “diaries” in Venice. For him I wrote a poem about butterflies crossing the sea. Now our vessel is crossing stormy Drake Passage like a delicate butterfly, so I remembered Japanese poem about a butterfly flying over the passage and also Japanese artist Kotaro Migishi’s painting of brilliant butterflies crossing the ocean. In the poem I wrote about my memory, too – when I was travelling in Hokkaido, I saw that painting in Kotaro’s museum. And after a few days, when I was waiting for a local bus in the tiny village by the ocean, a torn wing of butterfly was suddenly falling from the blue sky like an homage to Kotaro, or like an homage to every unrealized dream. That ocean in Hokkaido, this Drake Passage, Antarctic sea, Venetian canals and our contaminated water at 2011 Fukushima Nuclear accident are connected. Because we have only one ocean…
From A Diary on 23 March on the vessel
…and we saw Gustav Dusing’s “The Solid State of Matter.” When I saw his work form the zodiac, I felt that his amazing artwork had changed the space. The Antarctica with Gustav’s artwork was not already an isolated place. The Antarctica is a part of our planet, the place for creative works by human Gustav’s shining white tent (it was like a contemporary church) reminded me of history of Antarctic expeditions. In 1912 an English explorer Robert Scott wrote his last letters and died in the tent on his return journey from the South Pole. When the Endurance sank, Shackleton and crews took out several tents and lifeboats to survive… A tent is the symbol of hope and survival. And a tent is the metaphor of a tombstone, too. Gustav’s tent can become a monument of all – not only a monument of explores, but also of homeless, refugees, and a monument of all of us…
From Diary on 24 March on the vessel
…when I told Yto Barrada, that her “Abstract Geology,” colorful squares on white snow reminded me Mondrian and Russian Avantgard, she smiled and said that she “quated”
Russian Avantgard because we were travelling with many Russian. In her work Art history, traditional dyes, our daily lives (foods) and nature have been united in total harmony.
Sho Hasegawa did the project “Winter Landscape (Antarctica Version).” Sho skated on the ice and draw a landscape picture there. The skates are cast with one side made of bronze and
the other made of aluminum, so that they work together as a galvanic cell that generates electricity. Sho drew a picture with a light pen powered by the electricity generated by the ice skates on photographic film in a dark box (I like and respect his craftsmanship). His project was appealing as a performance, which shows the “process of creation.” And his work can be a symbolic work of Antarctic Biennale as a hybrid and elegant combination of art and science.
From Diary on 25 March on the vessel
We waited for a good wind for Yasuaki Iagarashi’s project “Bundling Time.” It is a collective work with participants of Antarctic Biennale. We braided yarn during our expedition. Every thread symbolizes our time (and life), because all meridians defining a worldwide system of time zones converge to one point in Antarctica. Here a thread, a line is a symbol of time. Yasuaki suggested all of us to play together with the kite using that yarn. Finally in Deception island we could fly a kite! Deception island was a gloomy place with abandoned British and Chilean stations which brought me to remembrance Andrey Tarkovsky’s film “Stalker.” But when the kite climbed higher, the scenery changed its “color.” The place of death and threat became the place of hope.
From Diary on 29 March, written in the plain from Ushuaia to Buenos Aires
Antarctic Biennale made me think about my role in Biennale (what can I do and what can’t I do as a researcher of art and literature). And Antarctica made me think about my role in this planet and in the Space, Cosmos. So for me this journey was not only an art expedition with wonderful people and also it was an inner trip. Alxander Ponomarev says that only artists can see and grasp the world as a whole picture. I agree that artists and poets can do it. And we researchers of humanities will tell the world about art and artists in scientific and human-poetic language.
I’m researching art and literature of 19th and the beginning of 20th century, too, but it’s very important for me to research contemporary art, because I want to live and “run” with contemporary
artists, I hope to encourage them as much as possible by understanding their works, writing articles, inviting artists to exhibitions in Japan. BUT NEEDLESS TO SAY ARTISTS ALWAYS ENCOURAGE ME MUCH MORE by their works and visions.
In our daily life we usually have not many chances to think, what to do for human’s future, for the environment, for ideal relationships, supports beyond nations and borders. But when we
see artworks, we can see this world and think about it in different ways, in artists’ visions. Art and literature give us visions and imagination. Art and literature help us to imagine others’
lives, feelings, pain, despair, wishes and hope. If everyone could imagine other’s lives deeply and keenly with the help of art and literature, in future we could realize
the world without wars and refugees, because our home will be their home. Antarctic Biennale has only begun, but we will continue our journey together as a member of the Spaceship Earth…
* This text was first published in the Antarctic Biennale Vision Club (ABVC) book. The ABVC is an initiative which unites key representatives from the cultural sphere, members of the academic community and entrepreneurs experienced in new technology development. It discuss longterm scenarios for humanity and its relationship with our planet, focusing on three “shared spaces”: Antarctica, the depths of our oceans, and Outer Space.
**Wakana Kono is Asocciate professor at Faculty of Letters, Chiba Universiy (Japan). A researcher, educator, specialist in Russian art, literature and culture.
As an art expert she cooperates with numerous museums, biennales and triennales around the world, distinguished art magazines and publishers. She is an author who writes on contemporary art, culture, poetry and films.