Landscape: The Stellar Axis

“I’ve always been interested in doing works on a scale that would make people think about themselves from a larger perspective and consciousness.”  –Lita Albuquerque, July 19, 2006 in the LA Times

Cece the Snowmobile GymnastThis week, the summer solstice—December 22—provided an opportunity for me to view some interactive landscape art.  This was exciting because, well, how often does a person get to interact with interactive landscape art?  My roommate, mountaineer and (former?) gymnast Cecelia Mortenson, invited me to snowmobile out to the site with her…and to make sure that the installation, which is located between two ice runways, was anchored securely in its place on the Ross Ice Shelf.  


The project, “Stellar Axis: Antarctica” is the brainchild of LA-based artist Lita Albuquerque, who is the recipient of a grant from the National Science Foundation’s Artists and Writers Program.  “Stellar Axis” is an installation of ninety-nine bright blue spheres, which are aligned with the stars over the South Pole, as they would be positioned on the eve of the summer solstice.  The spheres are proportionately sized and named according to the stars that they mirror.  Albuquerque sees her work with star alignment as an activity that “engages the whole planet.”  At least, it engaged me in thinking about STARS…something that I haven’t seen since I left New Zealand at the end of September.     

Stellar Sun

The spheres range in size from ten inches to four feet in diameter and have been positioned on the ice shelf in a circle of about eight hundred feet in diameter.  In order to execute the project, Albuquerque gathered an international crew of four others, including a French photographer, a British filmmaker, an Italian-based cinematographer, and an English astronomer.  Albuquerque is a pioneering member of the first generation of “Earth artists” and is known for her large-scale installations and landscape interventions that have geographic, scientific, and spiritual significance. 

Stellar GymnastIn you’re in the northern hemisphere, December 22 marked the winter solstice.  Up there, the solstice means that warmer weather and longer hours of daylight are on their way.  Down here, it’s the opposite.  Today’s high of 32-degrees Fahrenheit is about as warm as it’s going to get.   

For more “Stellar Axis” photos and developments, check out the “Stellar Axis: Antarctica” blog

Life:  Santarctica 2006


5 responses to “Landscape: The Stellar Axis

  1. Thanks for the update on the next generation of artists and writers. We, of course, feel like we are the originators, the Winfly original gangsta’ artists. Sad to have left, and unforgiving of those who follow after. Nonetheless, the blog is looking nice. We miss McMurdo and all the friends we made. Have a great Xmas, T.

  2. Traci! So sorry I missed this (on my birthday no less), the pictures are incredible! I would have lost my mind taking photos.
    Here in Toronto the sun is setting around 4pm, very different from MCM! It’s still too novel to be depressing.
    Thanks for keeping us departees feeling connected. Keep it up!

  3. Hey, these pictures are awesome! I was wondering if I could use one of them for my album cover (eventually, haha). Get back to me if you can ^_^. Thank you very much!

  4. Pingback: Fogonazos » Blog Archive » Stellar axis: la constelación antártica

  5. Pingback: Stellar axis: la constelación antártica | Proyecto web

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