“I remember one stormy night crossing the Drake Passage toward Anctartica with Dehlia, on board the scientific vessel Akademik Sergey Vanilov. We were on the upper deck drinking some strong coffee and looking at the instruments on the bridge [. . .]. And then, at all once, a colossal iceberg broke out of the darkness in the beam of light, just for a brief instant. It was as if it was suspended in time before disappearing again into obscurity.” —Julian Charrière
Ever since his artistic beginnings, the Romandy-born artist Julian Charrière has been exploring changing nature and the role humans play in it. In the cinematic work Towards No Earthly Pole, he combines different ice landscapes of our planet into a sensual, poetic universe. The work relates to the current climate crisis through subjective engagement with the particular topography of glacial landscapes and the historical figure of the artist as adventurer, investigator, and explorer. To realize the film, Charrière traveled with his team to some of the most inhospitable areas on Earth. He had already visited hard-to-access terrain for earlier projects—climbing the Indonesian volcano Tambora, or entering the restricted zones of nuclear test sites. All these places have in common a powerful historical, cultural, and geographic symbolism. In his photographs, videos, and objects—exhibited at MASI Lugano, Aargauer Kunsthaus, and the Dallas Museum of Art, and proposed in this eponymous publication—the artist questions received notions and images regarding certain regions and “nature” more broadly. Such preconceptions are often misleading, especially in the case of places that are difficult to reach and known to us only from pictures. The artist appeals to our capacity to marvel at the world and encourages us to look for knowledge—but also, at times, be overwhelmed by the wonders of nature.