Monday, October 25, 2010

The Project

adfreeze - the process by which two objects are bonded together by ice 

Cheryl Leonard
Composer Cheryl Leonard and visual artist Oona Stern will participate in the 2011 Arctic Circle residency. This interdisciplinary expedition tours the high arctic of the Svalbard archipelago aboard a scientific research sailing vessel. The program provides the opportunity for artists, scientists, and innovators to pursue their own projects, while exploring collaborations with the expedition's fellow participants. Leonard and Stern will develop Adfreeze Project during the residency.
This will be their first major collaboration after meeting in Antarctica, where they were both grantees of the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. Taking a multi-disciplinary approach, Leonard and Stern will collaborate on daily projects that respond to the schooner's locale - natural conditions, and the physical and cultural histories of land and sea.

Oona Stern
As they explore the Arctic, Leonard and Stern will develop a new installation based on each day's location. At each site a material or feature will be selected as a focus for visual and aural interactions. Of special interest will be natural patterns, evidence of changes in ecological systems, and other environmental events. The artists will consider macro and micro geological patterns such as ice wedges, cryoturbation, ancient shorelines, pingos, and glacial markings on bedrock; animal tracks and trails; vegetative patterns; glaciers, sea ice, and snow drifts. On land, local materials such as stones, sand, driftwood, shells, ice, water, bones and vegetation will be manipulated to draw attention to an aspect of the site. These materials will also be played as musical instruments in compositions and improvisations that translate the site's physical forms into musical gestures. On the ship elements such as sea spray, waves, wind and snow, as well as sounds from the ship herself, will be shaped and recorded. Drawings, rubbings and other mark-making processes will create visual records, echoing the visual data collection of early explorers. Site characteristics and interventions will also be documented with video and photography. At each location, activities will leave no lasting impact on the site.

Post-residency, Leonard and Stern will produce a series of multi-media portraits of the Arctic, designed for exhibition in galleries, educational institutions and online venues. Crafted sound works, documentary and manipulated videos, interactive sculptures and musical instruments, and drawings will be combined with the first-hand flavor of objects and materials from the expedition. Presentations will bridge the gap between a remote place and the individual, but will also raise this issue: any presentation of place is a virtual representation, and is in itself a fiction. The artists will explore a range of artistic formats to understand their proximity to both the real site, and their interactions with it.

A set of musical performances that can be played within, or in conjunction with, art exhibitions will also be developed. These concerts will feature Leonard performing solo on amplified natural objects from Spitsbergen in combination with edited field recordings from the expedition.  

Combining scientific practices (research) with artistic ones (presentation), the goal of Adfreeze Project is to relate the characteristics of the Arctic: its temporal attributes, unique physicality, and spiritual presence. Adfreeze is part of a new generation of earthworks which seek not only to (re)present nature, but to facilitate the growing desire of people all over to live with nature rather than try to conquer it. 

The Arctic Circle expedition takes place in late September and October 2011. Stern and Leonard will work out of Longyearbyen, Spitsbergen both before and after the sail, for about a one-month total residency.

Adfreeze Project is a sponsored project of the New York Foundation for the Arts. NYFA is a 501(c)(3), tax-exempt organization founded in 1971 to work with the arts community throughout New York State and the United States to develop and facilitate programs in all disciplines.