By Jessica Segall
One might think that one residency in the arctic would prepare you for the next. As I prepare to leave for the Noatak Wilderness in mid - summer, the contents of my bags reflect a world of difference from my journey to Svalbard in the Autumn of 2011. Close to the equinox, the sun will be up 24 hours a day for the first 9 days of our residency, where in Svalbard, we were graced with a sunrise which transitioned directly into sunset. The sun hugged the mountains, and only once do I remember feeling the sun's warmth on the side of my face. Svalbard was a planet of ice flows seen from a moving ship, and participating in the wilderness residency in Noatak will include hours of hiking through boggy marsh grass and tundra. Svalbard has no indigenous culture, and has only been inhabited by those seeking economy, first Russian and Scandanavian trappers and then miners, a university and now a growing tourist industry. We will be working with the National Parks Service in Noatak, collecting data at a site of rare prehistoric petroglyphs, artifacts of an ancient and continuing culture.
Rice, seaweed, rainpants, mosquitto netting, tent stakes, emergency blankets, an unfortunately hardcover copy of "The Human Experiment", wool everything. These items go into my bags, striking a balance between over-preparedness and what I can carry - preparing for weather 45 - 85 degrees, sun, rain or snow.
Another balance to be found is what a friend once called, "the balance between culture making and culture taking," a research residency as a means for production of new artwork. A balance between listening and speaking, between project outlines and thinking creatively in the moment. I am happy to be invited as part of the collaboration Fused Muse. I will be taking footage during this residency to accompany a new composition and performance thematically formed around endangered languages and climates.
A Wilderness Science and Art Collaboration
Aldo & Leonardo, a partnership between Colorado Art Ranch and the Aldo Leopold Wilderness Research Institute, is a project to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. The project is inspired by the scientific wisdom of Aldo Leopold and the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci. Our endeavor is an interdisciplinary collaboration of artists and scientists designed to celebrate the lands, resources and opportunities protected by the Wilderness Act. In 2013, we are hosting one-month residencies in six diverse wilderness areas. Artists will work alongside wildland research scientists and gain firsthand knowledge of the wonders, complexities and challenges of our nation's wildest places. The result will be a body of work that creatively illustrates the value of wild areas and honors the scientific efforts to preserve wilderness for the next fifty years.