On way to his second residency, British Artist Marty St. James arrived in Buenos Aires on February 14, 2014, however the flight was delayed until conditions were right for takeoff….
He arrived at Carlini Scientific Base of Argentina by military aircraft, helicopter, Russian icebreaker and small craft, in roaring winds and rolling icy sea.
Extracts from his diary:
Saturday 1st March 2014: South we go!
I’m off to meet Argentine Hercules military aircraft – south we go!
Tuesday 4th March 2014: Carlini Base
Saturday a long Hercules Argentine military flight, landing at the Chilean base Frei. Onwards by helicopter landing on the Russian icebreaker. Lunch with the Russian crew whilst sailing to the Argentine base Carlini. Then a short hope by Russian helicopter to the heli pad.
The Sea Wolf pissed all over my bag here in base station Carlini, Antarctica. With permission from the base station commandant – used the only washing machine. 6 efforts and still smells bad!
Ritual Rain Dance – performance started. Reverse order and upside down (of course- down under here in Antarctica we are all, ‘upside down’.
Weds 5th March 2014
Storm today – difficult outside on research base station Carlini. The wind roars and the sea outside in the bay has started to slowly freeze over. From movement to static……
Sat 8th March 2014: Antarctica Eye
The dust on the ground is volcanic. The wind is so strong. It throws particles at you! Each morning and evening I visit the tiny field hospital and lie on the table. Drops are dripped into my left eye as I have a scratch across it. But it’s fine for drawing the three brothers (Antarctica mountains).
Mon 10th March 2014: Antarctica Skua
The Skua here in Antarctica is an odd bird. It sort of worries you by flying and hovering just above your head. They get very close to you in the air and on the ground. They are also pirates in the sense that they rob and steal from other birds. At 21 inches long they look tough to eat! A little unsettling creature that gives you the pirates eye. One way I found to unsettle it is to get behind it’s back when it’s on the ground. That way it cannot decide which way to turn its head to gain sight of you – left or right.
At The Dance
The stocky Chef is some mean dancer. He sings in Spanish beautifully! He moves his hips & turns the ladies to the sounds of Samba. But lost control & shot across the room on his arse stopping at the wall beautifully. Then stood up, brushed himself down and carried on turning the lady as if nothing had happened – without missing a beat! Beautifully bizarre!
Time here has no boundaries, no ticks or tocks, no chimes or dongs. Only the winding up motion of a never-ending circle. If you complain about this to yourself you are instantly dealt with by the nature!
Sun 16th March 2014: Antarctic Ping Pong championship report
Whilst representing GB at Ping Pong here in Antarctica, I overreached for that special ping pong return shot. Up against aggressive French and Argentine opposition I fell heavily onto the table which completely collapsed and smashed onto the floor! Result I howled – in agony!
Mon 17th March 2014: Boat Grounded
The small landing craft we are on is stuck on the bottom of the sea bed…its propellers turn byt we are going nowhere..the captain tells us all ..to move to the left of the boat, then the right, then forward…finally we move..
Climbing the ships rope ladder
Climbing the large Argentine cargo ships rope ladder in cold rolling Antarctic sea is no joke for any of us…the ships sides are high, the wind, freezing water and rising and falling little boat we are trying to get off are all unforgiving…the ladder is swinging…its almost embarrassing
Cannot get off the ship!
After a three hour ship journey we anchore a long way off shore at Frei the Chilean base. One of the small landing crafts is lowered by crane into the rolling sea below, along with 4 navy men and our luggage. The situation is disturbing to watch. The boat looks like it might sink as the waves bounce over it. A crew member is thrown to the floor of the boat. The ropes securing the boat to the ship breaks. The metal rope attachment then snaps off on the other rope. The craft then breaks free of the ship and has to be hauled back. Its a mess and dangerous. The crew are screaming at each other.
He performed a ritualistic Rain Dance that he has developed at the south tip of the earth to stop the rain in Britain and Europe. The dance consisted of a series of circular actions in the snow using his hat as a device for telling the sky to clear its clouds. Making a series of specially devised noises, leg movements and rolling actions he hoped to defy the weather and beat it into submission on its travels from south to north. Based on North America Indian rain dances, which were used to encourage rain, Marty was convinced that because this dance was being performed at the bottom of the world and therefore upside down, it would reverse the process and stop the rain. It was a very British dance performed with bells, hat, stick and other fixtures.
He describes his artworks as sacred portrait mandalas.
There is a very real serious side to his thinking with the upside down rain dance.
The aim was to draw attention to the peoples of the world about what is happening to our planet and our part in it. The recent extreme weather conditions in the UK, has seen serious flooding, damage and loss of life. Yet there still seems an unhealthy disregard for what’s going on and who might at least be adding to the problem…thus an ‘UPSIDE DOWN RAIN DANCE’. Antarctica gives us a real opportunity to see these changes on a vast scale, up close.
St. James discussed aspects of the glaciers with an argentine scientist (glaciologist) carrying out research there. Discussions in terms of millions of years. Did short field trip to collect data – temperature deep ground readings. Really interesting stuff!
Art can at least send a message to this…
Artist travels to Antarctica to address climate change
UK based artist Marty St James is travelling to Antarctica for a month’s residency to express the effects of climate change. Over the next week he will perform a ritualistic rain dance to signify the severity of the current UK weather.
The traces and marks left in the snow will form part of a series of worldwide exhibitions about art in Antarctica.
Based on North America Indian Rain Dances which were used to encourage rain, St James will be performing the dance on the most southerly continent of the world, and in effect ‘upside down’, symbolising the reversal of the process.
He says of his work: “The aim is to draw attention to what is happening to our planet and how we play a part in it. The recent extreme weather conditions in the UK have seen serious flooding, damage and loss of life yet there still seems to be an unhealthy disregard for what’s going on and who might at least be adding to the problem. Antarctica gives us a real opportunity to see these changes on a vast scale, up close.”
He describes his artwork as ‘sacred portrait mandalas’ – a geometric or pictorial design usually enclosed in a circle, representing the entire universe. These are often used in meditation and ritual.
The rain dance will use bells, a hat and a stick and consist of a series of circular actions in the snow using his hat as a device for telling the sky to clear its clouds. Making a series of specially devised noises, leg movements and rolling actions, St James hopes to defy the weather and beat it into submission on its travels from South to North.
St James will arrive in Antarctica in late February and will be artist-in-residence the end of March on the coldest continent on earth. For more information, or to follow his journey, visit www.martystjames.com