From Solid to Liquid

with Carolyn Lambert | 2009 - 2010

Since the earliest accounts of European explorers, the NW Passage has been covered in ice and virtually impassible. Now, due to climate change, the ice is melting—establishing the potential of a new trade route between Europe and Asia for the first time since the opening of the Panama Canal and unlocking a potentially large reserve of oil and natural gas. Competition for control over this particular swath of earth is once again heating up. 

The Arctic today is simultaneously a leading edge of expanding resource commodification, an object of collective mourning and anger, a landscape of fantasy, and a locus of scientific research; an entanglement that compels and intrigues us. Due to climate change, the territory is now the center of a battle for mineral, oil and water rights. If the Arctic is at the front of commodity expansion, the engines that drive that expansion lie closer to home: intensively utilized environmental and social landscapes.

From Solid to Liquid seeks to explore the far north in local places that have a material or conceptual connection to the Arctic.

While New York City owes its location to explorers' avarice (Hudson was looking for the NW Passage when he arrived in 1609) it also has a significant stake in the current commercialization of the area. A recent market analysis by CitiGroup states "For investors, the issue is not whether climate change is occurring" but how to "benefit" from the ways "a variety of entities...are reacting to the perceived climate change." For most of us, the Arctic exists as a distant, romanticized space. Even as we face the impacts that a melting Arctic will have on the future, we are simultaneously transported back to the “age of exploration,” when nations jockeyed for the right to control newly charted territories. 

The project gave rise to three events:

  1. > From Solid to Liquid Bus Tour
  2. > Ice Race
  3. > Arctic Field Manual, Vol. 1.