Exhibition «Farthest North». Claudia O’Steen and Aly Ogasian
16.01 - 03.03.2018
«Farthest North» synthesizes the profound psychological effect of traversing one of the most rarefied places on earth in the footprints of a failed explorer.
In 1897, explorer S.A. Andrée attempted to fly to the North Pole in a silk hydrogen balloon. Andrée intended to be first to the North Pole, and planned to map the region using aerial cameras engineered for cartographic use. Shortly after taking off from the archipelago of Svalbard, however, the expedition crashed. Their remains were found 33 years later, the cause of their deaths unknown. Amongst the remains were several canisters of exposed film, preserved in the snow. Miles away in space and time, the artists spent the better part of 2016 deciphering the topography of the arctic landscape through the flat surface of a screen, closely inspecting each pixel. That summer, Ogasian and O’Steen travelled to the high arctic, tracing the route of Andrée. From the top of a mountain, they gazed across Virgohamna, the same arctic harbor that appears in Andrée’s photographs — below them, the remains of his balloon hangar, ravaged by the harsh climate. They had prepared physically for this voyage, but the psychological effects of being on location were profound and unanticipated.
Combining video, installation, and performance, Ogasian and O’Steen cast themselves in the role of explorer or knowledge seeker and traverse a series of scenarios that are at once deeply absurd and poetic. Through a robust research practice they develop systems that fuse historic, contemporary and imagined versions of marine navigation, nautical surveying, astronomy, geology and cartography. Their projects often include fieldwork in remote or unusual locations such as restricted aerospace facilities and extreme landscapes. Their work exists, ultimately, as an archive of a voyage or journey, as evidence or detritus of a larger performance.
Claudia O’Steen received a BFA from Watkins College of Art Design & Film and an MFA in Digital + Media at Rhode Island School of Design. She currently resides in Florida and is a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at the University of West Florida. Aly Ogasian received a BFA from Queen’s University and a MFA in Digital + Media at Rhode Island School of Design. She is based in Providence Rhode Island and is adjunct faculty at Rhode Island School of Design and Smith College.