Antarctica Will Host Floating Biennale in 2016

Residents of Antarctica, where a biennial is being planned for 2016.

If you think New York is cold right now, picture this. Preparations are under way for a new biennale in the last place you might expect: Antarctica.

Initiated by Nadim Samman, a curator at TBA-21 in Vienna, and Russian artist Alexander Ponomarev, it will be first major contemporary art showcase on the remote continent.

At the 2014 Venice Biennale, the Antarctic Pavilion, which was also the work of Samman and Ponomarev, attracted attention for its exploration of design (or lack thereof) in the typical architecture of Antarctica. “How does their pseudo-architecture circumscribe man’s relationship with the continent? More importantly—what are the alternatives?” Samman asked Design Boom.

A website dedicated to the Antarctic Pavilion has information about the undertaking, which is planned for 2016. According to the website, the biennale is to be held aboard research ships which will sail from Argentina to the Falkland Islands, south Georgia, and through the Drake passage (known as the roughest stretch of water in the world, about 600 miles) to arrive in Antarctica. At each of these landings, artists will make and display objects, installations, and performances that are portable, weather-withstanding, and cause no hazard to the environment. Activities are expected to last from 12–15 days and to accommodate 50–100 explorers, half of whom will be artists.

A statement of philosophy reads: “Antarctica is the last continent of freedom. Under the 1959 international treaty it belongs to no state and is intended exclusively for creativity ‘in the interests of the entire mankind’. Antarctica…is pure, hard-of-access and enigmatic like art itself! This white continent is like a white sheet of paper on which artists of different lands and nationalities will try to write new rules of cooperation.”


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