Polarity: Fire & Ice to premier at Fremantle Arts Centre
First Peoples reflect on the impact of the climate crisis across the world.
Polarity: Fire & Ice, an exhibition of immersive film and photographic works of artists living in Australia, the Arctic and Canada will showcase at the Fremantle Arts Centre from Sat, 10 February – Sun, 28 April 2024.
Polarity: Fire & Ice captures the impact of the climate catastrophe across the world, taking viewers on a journey to opposite ends of the planet – from the melting ice caps of the Arctic and Antarctica to the devastating summer fires that have become commonplace right here in Australia.
Described as an ‘exercise in contemporary truth telling,’ the exhibition is premiering in Australia as part of the Perth Festival.
Polarity: Fire & Ice is told through the voices of First Nations artists alongside non-Indigenous artists who work closely with First Peoples communities to consider climate change, care for Country and climate action.
Drawing on and advocating for the environmental knowledge and solutions harnessed by First Nations people across millennia, the exhibition aims to inspire cross-cultural understanding and support international climate change initiatives.
Glenn Iseger Pilkington, Visual Arts Curator, commented: “Polarity: Fire & Ice transforms the galleries into immersive, salient and challenging reflections upon the climate emergency, as it unfolds in on and within land, river, sea and icescapes, across our interconnected planet. Through the voices of First Peoples, and settler artists who work collaboratively with First Peoples, the exhibition, opening during the peak of the Australian summer, connects our choices to global impacts which seem a world away. Importantly, the work within Polarity, reminds us of the enduring ecological knowledges of First Peoples, knowledge that can hold the keys to finding ways to mitigate the climate catastrophe.”
Twelve visual works will premier in Australia as part of the exhibition. A major new cinematic work will be unveiled for the first time titled Chanamee, Never Die, 2023, commissioned by Fremantle Arts Centre and the Indigenous Desert Alliance. Artist Tim Georgeson journeyed deep into the Tanami Desert with the Karrinyarra people to create Chanamee, Never Die, 2023, bringing Indigenous lore to life through art.
The exhibition features award-winning film and photographic artists: Tim Georgeson (Australia, x 2 works – solo and in collaboration with the Fremantle Arts Centre and Indigenous Desert Alliance), Adam Sébire (Norway), Maureen Gruben (Canada), and Dr Cass Lynch in collaboration with and Mei Swan Lim (Australia).
Polarity: Fire & Ice aims to offer viewers a saliant reminder of the interconnectedness of the planet and the global concern that climate change poses.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS/WORKS
Tim Georgeson’s cinematic journeys, titled Pyrogenesis and Chanamee, Never Die, 2023 (in collaboration with the Fremantle Arts Centre and Indigenous Desert Alliance), reflect on the unprecedented environmental disaster of the 2019 / 2020 Australian bushfires that unfolded across the country. Fuelled by record-breaking heatwaves, prolonged drought, and strong winds, the fires left a lasting impact on both human and natural ecosystems.
The once-stable ice in the Arctic and Antarctic regions continues to diminish at a rapid pace, posing severe consequences for the planet and to humanity. Artic-based artist and filmmaker Adam Sébire’s immersive audio-visual work Sikujumaataarpoq is based on Uummannaq Island, a remote Indigenous Inuit settlement in Greenland. Filmed during the 3-month polar night, it highlights the profound changes to everyday life and traditions felt as a result of melting ice in the Arctic Circle.
Stitching My Landscape by Inuvialuk artist Maureen Gruben unfolds upon expanses of frozen ocean, near Ibyuq Pingo, south-west of the artist’s homelands at Tuktoyaktuk (Northwest Territories, Canada). Ibyuq is estimated to be at least 1000 years old and features deeply in local cultural memory. The installation, represented through film, draws on the artists memories of her brother harvesting seal, and the fresh string of gut, laid along the fresh white snow. Consisting of 111 ice holes connected with red broadcloth and installed on April 23rd in 2017, the installation extended for nearly a thousand feet. Informed through stories passed down in her community, Stitching My Landscape reminds us how much knowledge, wisdom and self-hood is held within icescapes, and the annual return of ice and snow.
Nyoongar researcher and writer Cass Lynch and artist Mei Swan Lim will present audiovisual work Dampland, exploring Nyoongar storytelling and memories of place handled down over thousands of years. Dampland shares Indigenous science and traditional ecological knowledge about natural cycles, referencing the last ice age and rise in sea level that followed. Listeners are taken on a journey through time, across the Darling Scarp, Swan Coastal Plain, to Wadjemup, or Rottnest.
The Fremantle Arts Centre has partnered with Carbon Positive Australia to ensure the exhibition is carbon neutral.