Sunday, February 8, 2009

Erika Blumenfeld Interview Part IV

This is the final installment of our email conversation between New York and Antarctica.  For more information and to carry on following Erika's Antarctic and Arctic adventures, see the links at the end.

JW:  How is the food?  I hear you have fresh-baked pie every day.

EB:  The food is well considered for the high altitude and cold weather – quite rich and there is plenty of it.  We have the usual three meals, plus a mid-morning "pies" break (mind you, these are not dessert pies, but savory meat pies) and afternoon "tea" break.  As you can imagine, this is very different than the way I normally eat.  In Marfa, I mostly eat fresh foods, and lots and lots of greens!  While it is no surprise that there is no fresh food here, I do miss them.  Earlier in the season, when the base received its first shipment of food after the long isolated winter months, they had some good fresh foods and veggies, but these were all consumed quickly.  I'm here at the end of the summer season, and so everything is either frozen or canned.  That said, the chef does wonderful things with meals, and we do have great steaks!

JW:  Other than the fact that 98% of the continent you are on is covered by ice and it is gobsmackingly beautiful there, what else strikes you as particularly strange or different about Antarctica?

EB:  At the risk of sounding completely predictable given my aforementioned interests, the most peculiar and awesome parts of my day here are the minute by minute changing light, which truly looks and acts like nowhere else I've ever seen.  Also, the strange phenomenon of the sun rising and setting in the southern sky, albeit for only an hour a day or so, is quite surprising and takes a bit of getting used to.  Antarctica continues to share its wonders – I'm sure I will answer the question differently upon my return.

JW:  Tell us a bit more about the auroras, the whistling sound auroras emit, Andrew Collier's "Whistler Experiment" and how it might tie in with The Polar Project.

EB:  I don't have any information about this as yet – stay tuned!

JW:  Have you seen any penguins yet?

EB:  Alas, no!  I am 100 miles from the ocean on the ice fields, which is not a friendly environment for penguins.  However, I hear that they are often seen nearby the boat we will be taking back to Cape Town at the end of February, so there is still the possibility that I will have the opportunity.

JW:  What plans afoot for your next trip – this time to the top of the world, to the Arctic?

EB:  Yes, now that I've done this first trip to Antarctica, I want to do a trip to the Arctic to begin looking at several areas there, mainly Svalbard and Greenland.  The hope would be to do a two week journey to these areas at the end of the summer.

JW:  How long before we see the finished product at a movie theater or museum near us?

EB:  The projected production schedule for the final shoot for The Polar Project is March 2010, with a possible exhibition opening in the fall of the same year or the spring of 2011.  the Polar Project really is a massive undertaking – I've been looking at it as a ten year project that I'm about four and a half years into.  In the meantime, though, the works that I produce from this first journey will be on exhibit at the LAND/ART exhibition in New Mexico in the September of 2009, and also in Rio de Janeiro in October 2009, and possibly a few other places beforehand.  Please check out my website exhibition calendar for exact dates.  

JW:  People can learn more on The Polar Project website and your expedition blog.  Anything else you would like to add?

EB:  Yes, for a spectacular view into the historical mark of the Arctic and Antarctic in art, I would highly recommend the exhibition To the Ends of the Earth, Painting the Polar Landscape at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem Massachusetts.  It is on exhibit through March 1, 2009.  I was fortunate enough to see it the day before I caught my plane to come to Antarctica, and it has left a lasting impression on me. 

Picture, view south from ICEPAC, Erika Blumenfeld.

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