Antarctica ... terra incognito

July 2 - 26, 2003

Anne Noble's "antarctica ... terra incognito" is part of Anne's wider on-going research into Antarctica. She was an Antarctic Arts Fellow in 2001-2002, spending three weeks on the frozen continent in January 2002. A visit courtesy of Antarctica New Zealand and Creative New Zealand; a time that she found invigorating and stimulating in many ways.

 The Expedition Towel
The Expedition Towel

Then there are the obvious landscape images. Rather than the received picturesque, the sort of picture postcard views we all know of Antarctica, Anne creates a much softer, though still eerie sublime. These are as their titles suggest, white- out images - the photographic project of white on white. Viewpoint and orientation are toyed with - perspective is often lost as the sun's angle or any cloud cover at all, completely flatten out and confuse our sense of space. The White Out, Antarctica 2002 images are aerial shots; Williams Field (Under Erebus), 2002 is not. Some "foreground" detail is preserved, but much is lost. There are tracking marks and what looks to be delicate scarification left by the incessant wind. And then there is the over- whelming sense of space: wide open; perhaps threatening; perhaps mysterious.

The show's title is ironic, as Anne through her lens has set about defining that distant place, but in terms that suggest aspects both of here and there. The exhibition's title work is photograhed from a show-and-tell sequence at The International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch. An image of New Zealand is overlaid Antarctica to give us a comparative sense of how big the place is. And alongside, the same map of Antarctica is emblazoned with the national flags of those countries who maintain bases - or a (political) presence down there. Audio-visuals, museum dioramas, heroic coffee table photographs - that is how most of us picture, or imagine Antarctica - those of us who are never going "to be lucky enough" to get there. Those of us who aren't scientists; and science filters through much of our information about Antarctica too!

Thus, there are photographs of New Zealand in Antarctica. The Expedition Towel is that given officially to Sir Edmund Hillary and Sir Vivien Feuchs for the 1957 Expedition. And Goalpost, Antarctica 2002 (on Williams Field at Scott Base) needs no introduction. Isn't it fascinating, how we take our culture wherever we go...!


Selected works

1. Goalpost, Antarctica 2002
2. Under Erebus (diptych)
3. Williams Field (Under Erebus)

All prints are pigment on archival paper, from 2002-2003.

Anne Noble was an Antarctic Arts Fellow in 2001-2002, spending three weeks in Antarctica in January 2002. She most gratefully acknowledges the support of Antarctica New Zealand, and also Creative New Zealand.