GOma Gallery oF Modern Art
In WaterFord CIty
– Jenna Whelan, Director
featured exhibitions & events
2 SEPTEMBER – 8 OCTOBER 2023
Coastlines are at the root of many conflicts, international crises, and wars. The strategic role of coastlines, their value as economic commodities, and disagreements over fishing rights, often cause rifts between neighbouring countries.
Occupation of seemingly insignificant land masses (tiny islands, flood plains, marshland) can potentially lead to war. Refugees risk their lives to reach coastlines across the world. Some coastlines are more politically complex than others, strategically important or more scientifically significant. Svalbard is one such land mass, which lies at the nexus of politics, science, and Earth’s climatic changes, even though it’s located in one of the most inaccessible areas on the planet, high in the Arctic, a mere 10 degrees latitude from the North Pole.
In theory, Svalbard has no borders. No visa is required to live there, though there are laws prohibiting giving birth or dying on the archipelago. Also known as the world’s thermostat, Svalbard is home to the most northerly science research centre on Earth. Scientists recently recorded the highest Arctic temperatures on record at a Svalbard outpost. Svalbard is also rich in oil and minerals, and it is one of only a few places in the world where whale hunting is still legal.
Svalbard’s delicate environment is vulnerable to commercial development and an explosive increase in tourism has led to a growing environmental crisis. Having no indigenous people, the inhabitants come from all corners of the earth, many of whom made their home there to escape persecution and poverty in their homelands.
Without Borders encompasses many aspects of research carried out by the artist during a residency sailing the coast of Svalbard’s archipelago in 2019. The exhibition brings together etchings, paintings, photography and installation to highlight the complex interweaving of political and environmental issues in the Arctic, and serving as a basis for discussion on broader worldwide issues encompassing climate change, land possession and border politics.
14 OCTOBER – 25 NOVEMBER 2023
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