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Arriba! A tropical time capsule in Antarctica


Paul Rosero Contreras, Arriba!, 2017 (détail). Photo by PRC and Narodzkiy

Last year, during the Antarctic Biennale, Paul Rosero Contreras installed a kind of tropical time capsule right in the Antarctic Archipelago. His Arriba! installation consists of a cocoa plant shipped from the Ecuador Amazonian rainforest, enclosed inside a temperature-controlled container and displayed on top of an Antarctic glacier. The glass container protected the plant as much as it protected the snow-covered landscape where regulations forbid the introduction of any alien flora and fauna.

Paul Rosero Contreras, Arriba!, 2017. Video: Antarctic Biennale art projects

The work alludes to the distant history of the polar region. Millions of years ago, the now ice-covered landmass was a tropical paradise, with lush palm trees, balmy temperatures and furry animals. Pollen and micro-fossils found in drill cores obtained from under the seafloor off the coast of Antarctica have indeed revealed that the area went through an intense warming phase around 52 million years ago.

More disturbingly, the installation also looks at a not so distant future, when climate will have changed so drastically that the atmospheric conditions and landscapes we used to take for granted will be modified beyond recognition. Will protecting plants under glass jars still be seen as an artistic eccentricity? How far will we go to protect nature? Is seeds in Svalbard vault only the beginning of something more sinister? How many contradictions will we tolerate in order to ensure that (capitalistic) life goes on as usual?


Paul Rosero Contreras, Arriba!, 2017. View of the exhibition No Man’s Land. Natural Spaces, Testing Fields, Mudam Luxembourg, 2018. Photo: Rémi Villaggi / Mudam Luxembourg

Paúl Rosero Contreras, Arriba! 2017 (detail). Organic Premium Chocolate produced by Pacari for the explorers of the South Pole.

I discovered Arriba! at the the exhibition No Man’s Land. Natural Spaces, Testing Fields, at Mudam in Luxembourg. I’ll come back later this week with a proper report on the show. It’s small but it’s so good, i’m glad i made the trip to Luxembourg just to see it.

No Man’s Land was curated by Marie-Noëlle Farcy, Marion Laval-Jeantet and Benoît Mangin. The show remains open until 09/09/2018 at MUDAM in Luxembourg.

Carnevale. Because pigs deserve piñatas and fruit machines too

Have you ever wondered how fun-loving pigs can be? Pigs are, after all, “cognitively complex”. They learn fast, have a sense of time, exhibit empathy, cooperate with members of their social communities, etc. In fact, many of their cognitive capacities can be compared to the ones displayed by other highly intelligent species we tend to respect more: dogs, chimpanzees, elephants, dolphins, etc.


Andrea Roe and Cath Keay, Carnevale, 2017. Ruby (24 carrot). Photography: Norrie Russell

What would a public park look like if it was built from the perspective of bees?

Erik Sjödin‘s art and research practice has led him to investigate human relationships to fire, aquatic plants that might one day feed the first inhabitants of planet Mars, bees and humans connections and community-based ways of producing food.


Erik Sjödin, Bee shed in Lötsjön natural reserve and park, Stockholm, Sweden 2018. Photo Erik Sjödin

I’ve been following his work since 2011 and always thought there was something remarkably peaceful, generous and efficient about his work. At a time when artists, journalists and scientists alike are calling for a more considerate, a less anthropocentric way to live on this planet, Sjödin is quietly doing just that. Working on potential solutions to problems of contemporary urgency and sharing the lessons with others through exhibitions, publications, workshops as well as collaborations with scientists, farmers, gardeners, other artists and chefs.

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