Meltdown – photographs by Liz Johnson
The photographs in this exhibit were taken during the month of June in 2013 while I was an artist in residence at the SIM Residency program in Iceland.
The following is an excerpt from my SIM Residency application letter:
…. my most recent photographs were taken on a trip to Antarctica, in December of 2011. I had previously photographed water and ice for 7 years after moving from the east coast of the U.S. from Massachusetts to Colorado, and experienced a severe drought and wildfires in the summer of 2001. I had always taken water for granted, and here I was experiencing the dire consequences of its absence. News of climate change and melting glaciers next focused my attention and photography on the landscape of Antarctica. I felt the need to add my vision to documenting a disappearing landscape and to bring attention, through my photos, to the environmental issue of global warming. I am applying for a SIM artist residency in Reykjavik, Iceland to be able to continue photographing the earth’s changing landscapes affected by climate change.
The artist residency in Iceland was a very different experience from my trip to Antarctica in 2011 and a very different landscape. One difference was the amount of time I had to photograph the ice. Antarctica was a 11 day trip with about 8 – 9 days of intense photography sessions which included two zodiac trips a day to locations. The artist residency lasted a month and was located in the city of Reykjavik which was about a five hour drive to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon: my main photographic location. I managed to visit the lagoon on two separate occasions. Each visit however had its time constraints. My next visit I hope to camp near the location and have the luxury of more time, as well as, different times of day to photograph.
The difference in the landscape between Antarctica and Iceland (or the “look” of the ice) was the dark volcanic ash mixture in the icebergs of Iceland. This difference at first took getting used to, the beauty of the pure white ice of Antarctica was somewhat frozen in my mind. As soon as I let this comparison dissolve, the beauty of the ash and ice was revealed to me and I set out to capture this beauty in my photographs of this amazing, magical place.
“What ice remains to us is magical, beautiful beyond our power to tell, a memory buried deep inside the core of our being, like a core of ancient ice dredged up by some divine polar poet.” Karal Ann Marling
I have become enchanted by this enigmatic element: its colors, shapes, and trans-formative nature and this project of photographing ice is one I hope to continue for years to come.