Antarctica may seem an unlikely artistic source and subject, yet Lucy + Jorge Orta have turned to that frigid continent as inspiration for their latest creative endeavour. Open this week, Jane Lombard Gallery in New York’s Chelsea district is showcasing the couple’s first US exhibition, ‘Antarctica’, which runs until 20 February.
It began with the Paris-based husband and wife team seeking to posit a translation of the climate change crisis in artistic terms. Back in 2007, they set off on an expedition to the South Pole to create an art installation as part of the End of the World Biennale in Ushuaia, Argentina.
‘We wanted to spotlight critical environmental concerns by first focusing on the fast melting polar ice cap,’ says Lucy Orta, speaking from Moulins in France where the couple have a vast studio and cultural complex.
Once there, the Ortas created the monumental installation Antarctic Village, comprised of 50 dome-like sculptures, onto which they stitched myriad flags from countries around the globe.
On view in the gallery is one of the work's domes, measuring six feet in diameter. All of the works in the show also take their cues from their expedition.
There’s also a participatory element to the newest iteration of the duo's travelling installation, Antarctic World Passport Delivery Bureau, which was presented during the COP21 UN Climate Summit last year at Paris' Grand Palais. By stepping into this loft-like structure, constructed of reclaimed wood and kitted out with a picnic set and more, visitors can register to receive a numbered Antarctica World Passport in exchange for a pledge to support the project’s principle to take action against global warming and aim for peace. To date, the Ortas have issued some 12,000 passports.