Rendering the North: 1708 Gallery in Richmond VA / by Thea Augustina

Tonight opens Rendering the North at the 1708 Gallery in Richmond Virginia. This has been a fantastic week and experience working with the gallery staff and setting up this show.

The show consists of the 15 photographs from the It Is Never Tomorrow series along with a new sculpture piece titled To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield which is from one of Shackleton's favorite poems by Tennyson.

Here begins the artist statement for this show. The beginning section is similar to my Pittsburgh show because they both included the It is Never Tomorrow photograph series.

"Out of whose womb came the ice?
And the hoary frost of Heaven, who hath gendered it?
The waters are hid as with a stone,
And the face of the deep is frozen.
Book of Job, the Bible

Rendering the North overlaps two British stories: the first, a high Arctic tragedy of a famed expedition’s disappearance, and the second, a southern Antarctic tale about the balance of fate. This work scours archived documentary, poetic inventions, and phantasms of personal imagination.

The photographs encompass a wandering soliloquy in search of ghosts who remain caught in a bitter expanse and the struggle for communication: The hunt for the Sir John Franklin Expedition of 1845. Sent as the largest and most technically advanced of its time, the expedition sought to finalize the Northwest Passage to the Pacific as well as to obtain calculations around magnetic north pole. The story pauses on the silence of the entire 133-member crew by 1847, and gathers momentum as search and rescue expeditions began filling the Arctic seeking clues. Over 150 years seasonal freezing and thawing hid and uncovered objects and histories. And as a result, the threaded fingers of a map filled up with coastlines, new Inuit populations encountered, and inventions and communication methods appropriated or generated. The western shroud of the Arctic was rent from the globe.

"A man must shape himself to a new mark directly the old one goes to ground."
Ernest Shackleton, South

The sculptures find their dwelling in the great Southern Ocean, whose waters churn easterly around a vast landmass and a steadfast crew’s movement across ice and biting water: The multiple chapters of Ernest Shackleton’s Endurance voyage of 1914.

The expedition sailed from England the day the War broke and returned at the height of its tragedies. Planning to transcribe their path across Antarctica’s breadth, they never set foot on its land. Instead they lost horse and home but never hope while striving to hold British soil again. The story involves a 800 mile open-water boat journey, latitude and longitude’s loss of land, sledges hauled by men, and all commanded by a man who saw balance in ranks and fate."

Materials/imagery included are a nautical flag tree form that spells out the sculpture's title, a two headed pony with various renditions of mercator map projections streaming from its feet, a suitcase with a working metronome attached, and a sinking wooden structure above a sledge carrying wax candles whose wicks form the leashes of 3 ceramic bells. All are suspended and balanced with each other on antique wooden pulleys using three-stranded cotton roping.

Thank you to 1708 Gallery staff Tatjana and Jolene for making this show easy-peasy, to the 1708 Gallery Board of Directors, as well as to interns Erica and Spencer for assisting me to install the sculpture.