Climate change, deglaciation, and changing water levels: for decades, glaciologists have been studying glacial change and its impact on the environment. What happens when an artist joins the researchers? Argentinian artist Irene Kopelman accompanied an expedition. She spoke to the experts. She learned how the constantly changing forms of glaciers are scientifically recorded. And she made drawings. The results of her artistic explorations take the form of fascinating images reduced to structural outlines.
Irene Kopelman (*1974) is known for her drawings. They are produced in the open air, yet only loosely related to the places she captures with her pencil. This Argentinian artist, who divides her time between Amsterdam and Argentina, is not a solitary player in the midst of nature, but actually accompanies scientists on their expeditions. In 2010, she embarked on a sailing ship expedition to Antarctica and tried, during the expedition, to capture the mountainous horizons on paper – in spite of extremely difficult weather conditions with dense fog, icy winds, snowfall and heavy seas.
Two years later, she launched into another project relating to mountains. This time, the focus of her interest was to be the glaciers and avalanches of the Swiss Alps. A residency awarded by the Laurenz-Haus Foundation in Basel (2012-13) provided the opportunity of venturing into the mountains with scientists and researchers from the “World Glacier Monitoring Service” and the “Swiss Federal Insitute for Forest Snow and Landscape”. Braving the elements, remote locations and weather conditions (which often hampered her drawing), she learned what she could from the specialists. Kopelman began to gain an understanding of the complexity of the glaciers and their constantly evolving forms, discovering how these have been analysed and catalogued by researchers. Her participation in expeditions and her willingness to adapt to the rhythms of the expedition as well as to the topographical situations, are an essential part of her work. This painstaking artistic research has resulted in exquisitely delicate drawings, as well as books describing her participation in the expeditions and a fresh analysis of the concept of representation.
The exhibition is kindly supported by the Ernst and Olga Gubler-Hablützel Foundation.