Notes from the Akademik Sergey Vavilov, Antarctica

by Barbara Imhof

Today is the last day on board. The day presents itself as truly majestic, mild and very sunny. Now, in the afternoon we have a great view of Cape Horn, the most Southern tip of the American continent. In my childhood, when my brother and I looked at the atlas, we had speculated how Cape Horn would look like. Today, and who would have thought it, on this very day I can see Cape Horn through my own eyes. Earlier this morning, I sat on the uppermost deck and looked towards the horizon, blue sea everywhere, the Drake Passage in front of me, and the boat continuously rocking. I felt like a bacterium riding a fish; breathing in with the wave crest and breathing out with the trough. Forever I could have sat there. Tomorrow our travel will end. Just in the moment when I had arrived in Antarctica.

Note 09 from the Akademik Sergey Vavilov

I want to burn into my brain a couple of panoramas. I stare for a long time at one section of the landscape which I like and I imagine how this image will stay in my memory for a long time. The landscape is breathtaking. Today, we are at a different site again, and this peninsula is full of mountains. They rise from the sea, ice and snow, it looks extra-terrestrial and ancient at the same time. A supernatural place, contrary to all I have known so far.

Note 07 from the Akademic Sergej Vavilov

In the fog there floats a whale. I can see him right in front of me. He has no tail fin anymore and is big and black. He hovers over an ice floe; the wind waves him past me.

Note 05 from the Akademic Sergej Vavilov


*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 discusses long term scenarios for humanity and its relationship with our planet, focusing on three “shared spaces”: Antarctica, the depths of our oceans, and Outer Space.

Barbara Imhof is an internationally active space architect, design researcher and educator. She is the co-founder and CEO of LIQUIFER Systems Group, an interdisciplinary team comprising engineers, architects, designers and scientists. For nearly 20 years, Barbara Imhof has been teaching at various prestigious universities, such as the ETH Zurich, Chalmers University, Gothenburg, University of Applied Arts, Vienna, and Vienna University of Technology (VUT).

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