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Roni Horn: Identity and Place in Iceland

by admin ~ April 8th, 2009

An extensive website of photos, lectures, visual displays, installations, museum exhibits, bibliography, and more, Vatnasafn/Library of Water is a flash media presentation by renown artist and photographer Roni Horn detailing her travels and art work in Iceland over the last 30 years.  “Each volume is a unique dialogue addressing the relationship between identity and place.  The books take as their starting point Iceland and the evolving experiences of the author in this country.”  The Tate Modern in London is hosting a 30 year retrospective of Horn’s work (here and here), and Stykkishólmur, Iceland is the location of a major part of the collection, a series of 24 glass tubes containing columns of glacial water, titled “Library of Water” (here and here). The site takes some time to explore, and is well worth an extended tour and visit.

Horn began traveling to Iceland in 1978 after receiving the Alice Kimball Traveling Fellowship from Yale.  From her biography:

Over the years her mostly solitary experiences in the more remote landscapes of Iceland have become a key influence in her life and work. In 1982 Horn spent two months in a lighthouse in Southwestern Iceland where she produced the Bluff Life drawings and Untitled (Dyrhólaey) series presently in the collections of MOMA, NY and Kunstmuseum Basel, respectively. Horn’s earliest work is conceptually based sculpture with a minimalist edge. Literature has been a strong influence in her work, one that is especially evident in her sculpture. Emily Dickinson (Key and Cues, 1994-2004) and Clarice Lispector (Rings of Lispector (Agua Viva), 2004) are prominent among them.

Horn has received numerous awards and recognition for her work from the Guggenheim Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Herb Alpert Foundation, Whitney and Venice Biennales, and many others.

08EN037 – Caribou Calving Area at the Center of Uravan Garry Lake Project Assessment by the Nunavut Impact Review Board

by admin ~ December 8th, 2008

The Nunavut Impact Review Board (NIRB) takes up a proposal this month by Uravan Minerals Inc. for a uranium exploration project south of Garry Lake along the Back River in Nunavut. Components of the project (PDF) include: aerial geophysical surveys, ground geochemical sampling, diamond drilling, construction of permanent exploration camp and mobile temporary camp, ground transportation by “sno-cat type vehicle,” snow machines and all terrain vehicles, air transportation by fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, construction of airstrips and touchdown areas, transportation and storage of fuel and hazardous materials, sewage and waste management, and mitigation proposals for disturbance to caribou herds. Areas of concern cited in the Screening Decision Report (PDF) include long term “cumulative impacts” and “adverse ecosystemic effects” from increased industrial and mineral exploration activities within core caribou calving areas of the Beverly herd, and possible long term impacts to Inuit harvesting activities.

The project is located within the calving grounds of the Beverly barren-ground caribou herd. Recent research has strengthened the information basis for concerns about how caribou responses to human activities on calving and post-calving areas can accumulate to the level that affect caribou. (Government of Nunavut).

Caribou population estimates have become a major focus of concern in recent years (here, here, and here), and from wildlife managers in the region (GNWT and BQCMB). The latest survey statistics for the Beverly herd show sharp declines in the number of calves on calving grounds (from 5,737 in 1994 to 93 in 2008), and an extremely low number of calves per 100 cows (see latest survey statistics). Population cycles, climate change, and industrial activities have been cited as common concerns, and meetings with regulators and the 2007 Caribou Summit have urged the need for long term assessments and a coordinated approach to caribou management. Among their recommendations: protection of the “calving grounds in the NWT and Nunavut,” a precautionary approach to caribou-related decisions, implementation of existing Wildlife Management Plans (such as the Thelon Wildlife Sanctuary Management Plan), implementation of harvesting quotas for some populations, and long term study of the cumulative impacts of industrial activities on barren ground caribou ranges and populations. Several companies (De Beers, Areva, and Cameco) have declared they will no longer conduct activities on caribou calving and post-calving grounds in Nunavut, because they understand the implications of this activity (1).

An Environmental Assessment is currently underway on the project. Comments on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (PDF) can be made until December 12, 2008. I urge all concerned parties to participate in this review process. There are currently 727 active mineral tenures (permits, claims and leases) on the Beverly calving ground. The Uravan project includes 355 claims covering 829,170 acres within the core calving ground of the Beverly herd. As described in the announcement by the NIRB (PDF), you can e-mail your letters of concern or comments to Leslie Payette, Manager Environmental Administration Nunavut Impact Review Board, at the following address ( Please enter the subject heading: “Uravan Garry Lake Project, NIRB File 08EN037.”

For more information:


Exhibit: the Hirshhorn Ontario Townsite and a 1950s Utopian Vision for Art and Industry in the Canadian Wilderness

by admin ~ November 29th, 2008

A new exhibit at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., “Public Spirit: The Hirshhorn Project” (November 05, 2008 – March 22, 2009), draws on a unique tale of adventure and discovery in Western Ontario, and a series of plans and photos for a utopian settlement blending modern design, contemporary art, and private philanthropy in the Canadian Wilderness. Joseph H. Hirshhorn made a small fortune on Wall Street in the 20s, struck it rich in the booming gold and uranium fields of Ontario in the 1950s, and was an avid collector of contemporary art and works by Man Ray, Josef Albers, Irene Rice Pereira, Victor Vasarely, and others (acquiring up to two works/day in the 1950s). In search of a home for his collection, he contracted Philip Johnson (head of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art) to design a town site in Western Ontario, north of Lake Huron, which he described as a “town of culture” and a thriving mix of industry, art, education, entertainment, healthy living, and nature.

The new city was to achieve a harmonious balance between labor and leisure, providing miners with housing and a museum, sculpture park, theater, concert hall, and library. Unlike other privately funded industry-specific towns, it would have had a unique focus on arts and culture, access to advances in psychological therapies, and a highly aestheticized design throughout. The project never came to fruition, but documentation of Johnson’s models and plans remain. Taking this forgotten historical footnote as his subject, New York-based Canadian artist Terence Gower, whose works often focus on detecting shifts in ideology through architecture, presents “Public Spirit – the Hirshhorn Project.” The multimedia installation incorporates photographs of the original maquettes, new models of Johnson’s design created by Gower, and a digitally animated video projection, which leads visitors through the imagined town. Gower likens the planned town and its likewise utopian predecessors to “little quasi-socialist planets within a capitalist universe” (1).

The work includes a variety of archival materials, a scale model of the town plan, and an animated video tour (produced in collaboration with Sticky Pictures). Display cases provide background materials on the uranium industry, correspondence about the plan (including letters to U.S. President and Ladybird Johnson), and information about Hirshhorn’s art collection (relatively unfiltered by interpretation and analysis). The video is a serene and precise reflection of the integrated town design, which one reviewer described as “so well rendered it almost looks alive.” You can view a short two minute section of the video on-line. The creator of the work, Terence Gower, is a Canadian artist residing in New York, and recently held an Artist Research Fellowship at the Smithsonian Museum. The exhibit runs from now until March 22, 2009, at the Hirshhorn Museum.

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Energy for Export and the Romaine River Hydroelectric Complex in Québec

by admin ~ November 20th, 2008

The Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environment du Québec (BAPE) will soon begin Phase II of its public consultations on the Romaine Hydroelectric Complex Project. Located in the Lower North Coast of Québec, the Romaine River flows 300 km from the border with Labrador to the St. Lawrence Seaway. Hydro-Québec is a public utility, and the proposed hydroelectric complex seeks to expand existing energy capacity for Provincial and industrial uses, and also generate electricity for export to lucrative energy markets in Vermont and New York. The proposed development includes four separate generating stations (producing 1,550 MW of energy), 200 km of access roads, a 500 km transmission corridor, and impoundments covering 279 km of the river.

Several groups are mounting an opposition to the project (Fondation Rivières, Alliance Romaine, and others), and raise concerns about the renewable energy portfolio of Hydro Québec, economic justifications for the project, adequate protections for wildlife and game, impact to endangered woodland caribou populations, loss of habitat for Atlantic Salmon, long term mercury contamination, greenhouse gas emissions, and impact to the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve at the mouth of the river.

Three public hearings are scheduled for December, and the final report is due in February. The Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environment du Québec (BAPE) made its announcement of Phase II consultations on November 10. The deadline for oral submissions to the Panel expired four days later on November 14, and written submissions can be made by November 27, 2008.

For more information:


Environment Canada Website Features International Polar Year Projects

by admin ~ July 22nd, 2008

Environment Canada spotlights Canadian research projects from the International Polar Year (2007-2008), a two year multidisciplinary scientific program organized through the International Council for Science (ICSU) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The international program involves over 60 countries, and includes research on changing snow and ice conditions, global linkages between polar oceans and global fisheries, the impact of pollution and climate change on communities and food systems, and promoting public awareness through international collaboration and partnership.

The Government of Canada’s program for IPY has dedicated $150 million to support 44 Canadian science and research projects. Working together with international partners, the projects address two areas of priority for Canadian northern science and policy development: science for climate change impacts and adaptation, and the health and well-being of northern communities.

Click here for a list of featured projects and links.

SkeenaWild – A Community Based Approach to Salmon Management and Conservation in Skeena Watershed

by admin ~ May 22nd, 2008

One of the great watersheds of the West Coast, the Skeena and its tributaries garners worldwide recognition for its prime salmon and steelhead habitat and historic significance to the livelihoods of First Nations and Pacific Northwest communities. Originating in the Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Provincial Park in northwestern British Columbia, the Skeena flows 570 kilometers to the Pacific and encompasses one of the largest watersheds in British Columbia (at 54,432 square kilometers). A new conservation initiative, the Skeena Wild Conservation Trust, supports a community-based approach to salmon management, and promotes a long term model for ecological and economic sustainability and generating new opportunities for the region. For more information, please visit the organization’s website for updates about projects, news, resources, and events.

About SkeenaWild:

SkeenaWild Conservation Trust was started in the fall of 2007. We are a regional conservation initiative whose goal is to make the Skeena River watershed and nearby coastal communities a global model of ecologic and economic sustainability. We are governed by a group of seven volunteer trustees drawn from a variety of backgrounds.

SkeenaWild utilizes the following strategies to realize its goals:

  • Catalysing and supporting planning processes which advocate for ecologic, economic and social sustainability and resiliency.
  • Building a Skeena watershed regional identity through direct public outreach activities and a variety of media.
  • Attracting and providing resources to build the new salmon economy.
  • Facilitating dialogue among residents of the watershed, First Nations and specific interest groups such as commercial and recreational fishers, municipal leaders and resource managers.
  • Conducting and sponsoring research into relevant ecological, economic and social issues.

Other Information:

New Park Proposal for Northern Quebec: Tursujuq or the “Parc national des Lacs-Guillaume-Delisle-et-à-l’Eau-Claire”

by admin ~ May 8th, 2008

Located in the Richmond Gulf area on the eastern shores of Hudson Bay, a new park proposal for northern Quebec is soon to become Nunavik’s third provincial park. The region abounds in scenic hills called cuestas, and also contains numerous lakes and rivers, tidal waterways, and two circular impact craters that are among the largest lakes in Quebec (Lac-à-l’Eau-Claire, also known as Clearwater Lake or Lac Wiyashakimi). The provisional park plan reflects a collaborative agreement between representatives of the Kativik Regional Government (KRG), the Makivik Corporation, Le Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et des Parcs, and the northern villages of Kuujjuarapik and Umiujaq and the Whapmagoostui Cree Nation.

The Parc national des Lacs-Guillaume-Delisle-et-à-l’Eau-Claire, and especially the Lac Guillaume-Delisle sector, was a meeting ground and place of trade, and the navigable waterways were used to link together the different trading posts. The prevalence of water throughout this territory fosters the development of nautical activities that facilitate travelling great distances, and which use the same routes as those used historically by the first explorers (1).

The park plan includes provisions for scientific research, backcountry travel and rustic huts along sea kayaking and canoe routes, ecotourism opportunities, visitor services, exhibits on natural and cultural heritage, and joint management of park with the Kativik Regional Government and local villages. Making regular use of the area for generations, the park will continue to provide protection for the traditional harvesting rights of the Inuit and Cree under the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement.

Residents of Umiujaq and Kuujjuaraapik-Whapmagoostui will have a chance to provide input on the provisional park plan. Public hearings are scheduled for June 16-19, 2008. Letters on the park proposal can be sent to the Service des parcs du MDDEP by June 09. Further information on how to participate is available from the national parks of Québec website.

Additional Information


“Passage”: A Film by John Walker Looks at the Story of John Rae and Inuit Oral Histories of the Lost Franklin Expedition

by admin ~ May 7th, 2008

Following the tale of hubris and national ambition, John Walker looks at the tragic fate of the 1845 Franklin expedition and the controversy surrounding the harrowing tale of desperation and futility as told by Inuit oral histories. The story is told with the assistance of Nunavut MLA and historian Tagak Curley, and draws on the historical biography of John Rae by Ken McGoogan, titled “Fatal Passage” (2001).

It was news that shook the English-speaking world. Celebrated British explorer Sir John Franklin and his crew of 128 men had perished in the Arctic ice during an ill-fated attempt to discover the Northwest Passage. More shocking, they had descended into madness and cannibalism.

The report came in 1851, from John Rae, a Scottish doctor working for the Hudson’s Bay Company. Traveling thousands of miles on foot and in small craft, Rae had done what six years of searching by the British, Americans, French and Russians had failed to do — discover the fate of Franklin and unlock the final link in the Passage — a 300-year-old dream.

For more information, a CBC story provides audio and video links to interviews with John Walker and Ken McGoogan. The Canadian Encyclopedia includes a list of previous films and awards by John Walker. For a list of future screenings, please visit the official NFB/ONF site for the film.


“Field Notes”: Monthly Newsletter Focuses on Current Research in Circumpolar North

by admin ~ April 24th, 2008

Keep track of polar field service activities through the newsletter of the National Science Foundation’s arctic logistics contractor: VECO Polar Resources (VPR). Involved in over 100 research projects in Canada, Greenland, and the Circumpolar North, VPR provides transportation, field equipment, camp management, and safety training for field researchers through a global network of service providers. Their monthly newsletter provides updates on research projects administered through the NSF Arctic Sciences Division in the Office of Polar Programs, and other projects.

Included in April 2008 Issue (PDF):

  • Learn how Shari Gearheard, a research scientist at the University of Colorado at Boulder’s National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSDIC), is combining the rich ecological knowledge of the Inuit with scientific investigations to better understand just how the sea ice in three arctic communities is changing.
  • Read about how Fairbanks residents celebrated their frozen habitat last month with their annual Winter Carnival. The festivities showcased the World Ice Art Championships, which began late in February and whose many sculptures were on display in town through March.
  • Find out how “Expeditionary artist” Maria Coryell-Martin is developing a portfolio of work for her IPY project, Portraits of Ice, Witnessing Climate Change through Art. Coryell-Martin is a member of the Polar Artists Group and The Explorers Club and values experiencing out-of-the-way places through art.

Alex Janvier and Kenojuak Ashevak Receive Governor’s General Award for 2008

by admin ~ April 11th, 2008

Alex Janvier and Kenojuak Ashevak are recognized for a lifetime of artistic achievement by the Canada Council for the Arts and the Governor’s General. Alex Janvier was born on the Le Goff First Nations Reserve in northern Alberta, and has over 40 years of experience in the arts and education. He was appointed Member of the Order of Canada in 2007, and is the recipient of numerous art and national honors. The award announcement contains a detailed account of his unique visual language, and major accomplishments during his long and diverse career. One of his most well known works is the “Morning Star” mural at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, which tells the story of life movement and the experience of conflict and spiritual renewal in First Nations culture and history. Speaking of the personal nature of his work: “I am painting and I am also telling the story of the way things happened to me and to my tribe and to my people and it’s a true story” (Canadian Museum of Civilization).

kenojuak, the arrival of the sun

Kenojuak Ashevak has been a leading member of the Cape Dorset artists and print making collective for many decades. She was appointed Companion of the Order of Canada in 1967, and was the subject of a 1963 NFB documentary (available on-line) that was nominated for an Academy Award and profiles her early life and the stunning “Arrival of the Sun” print at the National Gallery of Canada. The award announcement describes her distinguished career, and many of the expressive and creative components of her work. A large scale recent work includes her stained glass window installation at Appleby College (near Toronto), titled Iggalaaq, “Where the Light Comes Through.” Featuring a snowy owl and an arctic char, the images draw on multiple sources and depict the “sustenance of life” and “enchant anyone who sees it,” says donor Glen Erikson. Kenojuak Ashevak travels widely promoting Cape Dorset Art, and has several retrospectives of her work.

More Information: