Such a thing, I had until now thought, was a curiously nineteenth-century notion: putting artists on a picture-making cruise seemed somehow both bold and quaint. And yet just today, just by chance, I stumbled across a documentary, Art from the Arctic, which describes a series of voyages made between 2003 and 2005, with British filmmaker David Buckland taking the role of Bradford, and the passenger-artists including sculptors Anthony Gormley and Rachel Whiteread, choreographer Siobhan Davis, and the writer Ian McEwen. The film documenting their journeys is, happily, available to watch free online, both at Hulu and at SnagFilms (I recommend the latter, as it's free of adverts for insurance companies). The film itself isn't terribly remarkable, though there are some lovely shots of Svalbard, including calving glaciers and a polar bear which -- thanks to a telephoto lens -- looks dangerously close to a boatload of defenseless artists. Nevertheless, the story it tells is a remarkable one; in this day and age of virtual visits and Skyping sociality, it's somehow encouraging to see artists and writers actually enduring the rigors of a sea voyage -- and, in one case, a wintering-over -- simply to gain that ineluctable thing that we still can call "experience." I recommend it very highly, and hope that perhaps this sort of thing may happen again -- if it does, I'll put in for a ticket.
Shining a light on a new era
1 day ago