On Feberuary 17th, on the day when the Sun will rise in Qaanaaq after the long polar night, our ICEBERG(s) Exhibition will be unveiled in the Cold and Dark of the RUINA, at the Museum of Architecture downtown Moscow.

Why Icebergs?

Galya Morrell of Expedition Avannaa tells her version of the story.

“Icebergs. We know them not.”

Iconic and enigmatic, they are beyond our reach. They are too far, too cold and too foreign. One can’t touch them. One can’t relate to them. And why should one?

In the carousel of our worries, insecurities, aspirations, fears and hopes – icebergs simply don’t fit. We are all too busy to look up into the sky, and it’s so close. So, why icebergs?

I did not know icebergs until I met them. For just a few years, I travelled among them by dog sled, in a small open boat and by foot. I lived among them, I slept among them, I danced among them and I loved among them. Icebergs illuminated my life. They gave me a chance to see the light in the running cracks of their ever-changing ceilings and find clarity that is so evasive in the broken world of the dwellings of mankind. They gave me a chance to take a pause, such a needed one, and see the circle of life in which darkness goes hand in hand with light and in which clocks and calendars become irrelevant.

Icebergs may seem lifeless, but they are far from that. They are homes to millions of tiny and not so tiny creatures, from iron bacteria and snow algae to polar bears and seals. Humans use the icebergs’ top floors as lookouts; from these formidable “penthouses” the locals follow the catch, orient in the chaos of the frozen ocean and judge the seasons. Rather than empty and sterile chunks of ice, icebergs are floating, overpopulated skyscrapers whose residents demonstrate admirable diversity. Iceberg dwellers, some of whom can be seen only under a microscope, spend their entire life cycle here: here they are born, grow up, fall in love, reproduce, and die.

Icebergs, like dinosaurs or woolly mammoths, come from afar. They are born being already hundreds of thousands of years old. Their birth is intense, dramatic, sometimes violent and always lengthy: a separation from the Mother Glacier and gradual sliding into the water can take up to six years. As they free themselves, they can travel long distances, sometimes all the way to the latitudes of their sister skyscraper megapolis – New York City.

Beaten by winds, worn by waves and burnt by the sun, they disintegrate leaving no trace behind. Some go down gradually, some die almost immediately, accidentally, after crashing into another iceberg or land. But some – whose life trajectory keeps them away from warm waters – last a long time, up to half a century.

As they travel, they breathe, releasing bubbles of pure ancient oxygen into the polluted skies of our world. As they melt, they drain the cleanest fresh water on Earth into the salty waves of the world ocean.

Their bones, veins and vessels are full of life that has been formed millennia before our own arrival onto this planet. In their flesh, they carry memories that we humans have in the depth of our genes. We, humans, owe icebergs our existence. Icebergs are our living ancestors. One can talk to them, ask questions or read them like a book. But most of us are too busy to read books, let alone books of Ice Wisdom which gather the dust of time.

Most of the icebergs you will see today at this exhibition are gone. They have transformed into a new entity having added a small bit to the rising sea levels. They are not around anymore, but the memory of our encounters lives in my heart.

Nature – the grand architect, has courage – a courage to create things that will be gone. Nothing, absolutely nothing, will stay at the end: no preparatory drawings, no collages, and no masterpieces. Only memories will stay.

Isn’t that the same with people? Day and night, time, gravitation, elements, and our internal clocks work incessantly on our bodies. Crossing longitudes and latitudes, both icebergs and humans move to a turning point X after which lies the unknown. This point may be seen as an end, but it may be only a culmination in our transformation. It all depends on the direction in which we look.

The longer I travelled, the more I understood that I see icebergs the same way I see people. Old, young, sad, joyful, unbreakable, frail, elegant, kitchy – each has a story of its own. A unique one. They come in different sizes, different consistencies, different colors and different shapes. There are no perfect icebergs as there are no perfect people.

At some point I started giving names to the Icebergs that I knew. I thought, «They will be gone, but the name will tell us the story. And this story will become a legend.»

I have seen many icebergs. Some were small – no bigger than a car. Some were medium size – comparable with a small grocery store. And some were gigantic, taller than 40 story buildings and larger than some independent countries; one feels like a splinter next to one of them.

Most icebergs I met were a shade of white. But some were blue, green, orange, pink, yellow, purple and even black. It’s a game of light, density, salinity and our own perceptions and imaginations.

Some resembled Mauritanian fortresses, and some – the skyscrapers of Manhattan, industrial warehouses of Texas, and spaceships of the future. Some were topped with minarets, others – with onion domes, yet others – with giant solar panels. Winds and currents pave the streets and plazas between them, blow them together and apart, connect them with passable ice bridges and disconnect abruptly, leaving ruins behind.

The more I was looking at Icebergs, the more I was thinking about us – humans. We are the Terrestrials. And therefore we can easily live like mice or birds – in holes and in nests, on top of each other. We can fight self-destructive wars over a patch of soil or rock, which take away thousands of lives yearly. But today, when the Earth’s population has reached 7 billion and when the shoreline keeps receding, we are prompted to rethink: where to live and most importantly – how to live.

For most of us, the wars happening on land are very far away as well, yet we create the illusion that they are so close. An iceberg is no farther away than the land of far away countries. The beauty of an iceberg is that it takes water – which humans cannot live without – and turns it into solid ground.

Yes, we are the Terrestrials. But we are also the Aquiferous. An Aquifer is a body of water that includes permeable rock. Like Icebergs we are mostly made of water, yet we are very solid. Like an Aquifer we are made of a solid that allows water to penetrate our deepest fears, desires, hopes and dreams. Water is not the foreign element for us.

Icebergs are far away. Unlike the sky that is close, we don’t see them, we know them not. But sometime soon they will float much closer to us. Knowing them does not come from touching them, from seeing them, even from tasting them. Knowing comes from the reflection that they give off. Knowing comes from giving that reflection a name.

We are blind as we can’t see the Future, equally – the distant one and the immediate one. We don’t look up into the sky. We don’t need to know Icebergs. But Icebergs can help us to see ourselves better than ever before. They can illuminate our life and engage us with things we choose not to care about. Architect Nature has created Icebergs as giant mirrors in which we may see – if we choose – our own reflection. And if we see them, maybe we will think differently, and maybe – one day – even act differently?”

ICEBERG(s) is a result of the cooperation amongst many international artists, from Canada to Switzerland, from the US to Greenland, from Yakutia to Chukotka. The team includes some of the finest in their respective professions: architects, light designers, explorers, composers, ethnographers, linguists, dancers and signers. The curator of the ICEBERG(s) exhibition is Yury Avvakumov, well known by his work in the world’s best museums both in Europe and in the US.

Today, because of advances in science and technology, we know so much about climate change and the perils it brings about, but this knowledge lies outside of our daily routines and behavior. We understand why this is happening, but emotionally we are not onboard because what is happening in the Arctic is beyond anybody’s reach. People don’t see it – and therefore, they don’t feel it and as a result their hearts stay disattached.

ICEBERG(s) tell the story of a climate and societal change in Northern Greenland, but not only. Presenting ICEBERG(s) in Moscow has a special meaning at the time of turbulence and uncertainty in the mainstream Russian society caused by the new crisis in the relations between West and Russia. At the times of crisis people very often become insusceptible to words. They become deaf and blind by choice since they chose not to hear and not to see anything beyond the four walls of their houses-turned-fortresses.

Yet, people, deep inside of them, stay humans. And even in modern days Russia they can be still moved by music, art, nature – anything what can cause a deep emotion. We believe that ICEBERG(s) can elevate the best, as opposite to the worst, in people’s hearts, because ICEBERG(s) are based on images, sounds and a unique experience of being involved into something absolutely majestic, pure and cosmic.

Exhibition ICEBERG(s) opens on February 17th, at 19:00, at the Moscow Museum of Architecture. ICEBERG(s) is a joint project between The Shchusev Museum of Architecture
and “White City Project”.

Idea and Implementation: Elena Olshanskaya
Curator: Yury Avvakumov
Arctic Expedition: Ole Jorgen Hammeken
Images: Galya Morrell
Music: Lera Auerbach
Performance: Jessie Kleeman
Ritual: Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq
The Book of ICEBERG(s): Ivan Aleksandrov
Coordinator: Tatiana Tsareva

Please, read what our curator, Yury Avvakumov, one of the most prominent curators or modern Russia, is writing:

“One of the first artists to brave the treacherous route north in search of icebergs was Frederic Edwin Church. His 1861 painting The Icebergs was called “the most outstanding work” of American art of its time. The work was destined to be a success, in large part thanks to the extraordinary setting, something entirely alien to the viewing public. The fate of the Titanic and its adaptation for the screen by James Cameron have engendered a kind of fear – a spine-tingling dread of coming face-to-face with an iceberg – that has captured the imagination of the wider public. Among contemporary artists who are busy “capturing” icebergs is Danish-Icelandic sculptor Olafur Eliasson, who used art gallery space to display chunky glaciers. The gallery was fitted out with refrigerators to keep the natural found objects in pristine condition for the exhibition.

These days, everybody knows about icebergs. But few have seen one in real life. Nevertheless, lovers of the extreme and connoisseurs of natural beauty cannot help but feel the irresistible pull of the icebergs at both poles of the Earth. The changing shapes of icebergs alternately melting and freezing in the sea breeze – and no two icebergs are ever the same – have captivated architects. Icebergs are often compared to skyscrapers because of their immense size. But, as we know, the tips of icebergs do not strive towards the heavens, but rather to the depths of the seas. According to some imaginative minds, iceberg fields form megacities of glaciers. But it is global warming, rather than a new ice age, that threatens humankind today.

Adventure artist Galya Morrell travelled hundreds of miles across Greenland’s sea ice by dog sled, small open boat, on foot and on skis, taking thousands of pictures of the scenery on the way: “Icebergs may seem lifeless, but they are far from that. They are overpopulated skyscrapers, whose residents spend their entire life cycle here: here they are born, grow up, fall in love, reproduce and die. Icebergs are floating homes to millions of creatures, from iron bacteria and snow algae to polar bears and seals. From the top floors of icebergs, these formidable “penthouses”, the locals follow the catch, orient in the chaos of the frozen ocean and judge the seasons.”

“The longer I travelled, the more I understood that I see icebergs the same way I see people. Old, young, sad, joyful, unbreakable, frail, elegant, kitschy – each has a story of its own.”

“Architect Nature has created Icebergs as giant mirrors in which we may see our own reflection. And if we see them, maybe we will think differently, and maybe – one day – even act differently?”

Ole Jorgen Hammeken: “When you are surrounded by icebergs, there is a great feeling of truth permeating everything – the ‘truth of life’. It is both the truth and a mirage at the same time. And, just like an iceberg, the closer you get to the truth, the further it recedes into the distance. It is all a trick of the light, the shadows, the ozone and the cold temperatures.”

Angaangaq Angakkorsuaq, Greenlandic shaman, healer and founder of the Ice Wisdom international society: “The greatest distance in the existence of Man is not from here to there nor from there to here. Nay, the greatest distance in the existence of Man is from his mind to his heart. Unless he conquers that distance he can never learn to soar like an eagle and realize his own immensity within.”

Yury Avvakumov: “It is an exhibition of light, colour and sound, dissolved and emanating from the compacted snow that makes up the floating icebergs. It is an exhibition about the human environment and those rare people who trade the heat of their bodies for the cold of the polar icebergs.”

The Moscow exhibition opens the day after the long polar night finally ends and the sun rises once again over Qaanaaq in Greenland, the northernmost town in the world”.

For more information, call: Anastasia Grigoryan, +7 (499) 691-21-09
Accreditation for the media: Anastasia Grigoryan, +7 (499) 691-21-09
Images: ICEBERGS(s)
Websites: ICEBERG(s)

The Shchusev Museum of Architecture, Ruina Wing

Red, Blue and Boiling

77°43′ N 69°29′ W Location: Murchison Sound . Boat speed: 15 kn. Visibility: 10+ km. Broken clouds. Temperature: 2 °c. Wind: 7 m/s ←. Pressure: 996 mbar. Humidity: 81%. August 17, 2012

Fever of the Ice

74°28′ N 57°40′ W Location: Melville Bay. Boat Speed: 30 kn. Visibility: 5+ km. Partly sunny. Temperature: 6 °c. Wind: 3 m/s ↘. Pressure: 1009 mbar. Humidity: 73%. August 2, 2012

Thrown Away

75°38′ N / 60°30′ W Location: Melville Bay. Boat speed: 15 kn. Visibility: 10+ km. Partly sunny. Temperature: 5 °c. Wind: 2 m/s ↙. Pressure: 1008 mbar. Humidity: 73%. August 4, 2012

Love Nest

77°24′ N 67°58′ W Location: Inglefield Fjord. Boat speed: 4 kn. Visibility: 10+ km. Clear. Temperature: 1 °c. Wind: 0,5 m/s ↙. Pressure: 1010 mbar. Humidity: 70%. August 23, 2012

Princess of Uummannaq


Sweet Avijaja

Napasoq. = Something That is Standing.(in Kalaalissut)

Atasut. = Together. (in Kalaalissut)

The Giant and the Dwarf.

The Gates.

Statue of Liberty

Her Every Day Toys

Stairs to Eternity

73°21′ N 56°46′ W Location: Baffin Bay. Boat speed: 25 kn. Visibility: 10+ km. Broken clouds. Temperature: 5 °c. Wind: 1 m/s ↑. Pressure: 1004 mbar. Humidity: 82%. August 1, 2012

Gray Arm of the Wind

73°20′ N 56°30′ W Location: Baffin Bay. Boat speed: 30 kn. Visibility: 10+ km. High Overcast. Temperature: 4 °c. Wind: 0,5 m/s ↙. Pressure: 1012 mbar. Humidity: 60%. August 1, 2012

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