This month sees the opening of ‘Icebreaker Dreaming’ with an outdoor projection of a frozen arctic sea animating the exterior wall of Pushkin House on Bloomsbury Square on the opening night. This is a new solo exhibition by the artist Ruth Maclennan. The exhibition explores the Russian Arctic, as a place to live in, to travel through, to project onto, to control and exploit for its natural resources, in the context of the climate emergency. The footage is shot from the bridge of a Russian icebreaker and conjures up a route for arctic shipping alongside the traffic in central London, connecting the distant arctic with urban, fossil-fuelled, metropolitan life.
Inside the building, an immersive installation, including archival c-type printing and mounting produced by Metro Imaging technicians, traces journeys that Maclennan has taken and imagined in the Arctic region. It brings together newly commissioned films, drawings, photographs and found objects.
‘The icebreaker is the future speeded up, as polar ice melts and icebreakers open up sea routes and fossil fuel extraction. The ship helps bring about its own obsolescence. This exhibition uncovers heroic, tragic, comic, and poetic stories of the icebreaker. The exhibition gives voice to people who call the arctic home, and the forces and ideas, and events that resist the world view the icebreaker represents.’ Ruth Maclennan. Icebreaker Dreaming continues Maclennan’s fieldwork in the Russian arctic begun with Call of North. Through this work, she reflects on what climate change means on the ground, and how the geo-political transformations associated with climate change are being experienced and expressed.
Maclennan’s exhibition, Icebreaker Dreaming, is part of a wider movement to undo prevailing ‘mid-latitude’ clichés of the Arctic seen from afar as untouched pristine nature, with polar bears, idealised or demoralised indigenous peoples, and memories of brave explorers sent to conquer the elements and claim this terra nullius.
During the exhibition, Pushkin House will be a stage and a meeting place for exhibiting, describing and interpreting what is going on and what is at stake in the Arctic region today. A series of talks, discussions and performances at Pushkin House will expand on the themes of the exhibition and questions raised by its artworks.
21st Nov 2019 – 8th Feb 2020 | Pushkin House, London
11 AM – 5 PM on THU, FRI, SAT | FREE ADMISSION
PV: 20th Nov 6.30 – 8.30pm RSVP