The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want

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Pierogi Gallery and Ronald Feldman Fine Arts presented the exhibition of Tavares Strachan’s The Distance Between What We Have and What We Want (Arctic Ice Project) which opened in Nassau, Bahamas, on July 27. 2006.

In march 2005 Strachan traveled to the Alaskan Arctic in search of a frozen river. Within several days he located one under the Arctic Circle. With the help of a skilled team, he cut into the river to extract a 4.5 ton portion, which was stored in Alaska. This block of ice was shipped to Nassau, Bahamas for exhibition in July 2006, an extremely hot summer month in the Bahamas. The ice sat  in a glass freezer, which derived its power from a solar energy system. In effect, the power of the sun will keep this remnant of the Arctic intact, stable, and on view in the Caribbean. After this it traveled for further exhibitions.

In this work, Strachan suggests that opposites, or extremes, are actually necessary for each other’s survival. Ice on the surface of the Arctic Regions helps to maintain the Earth’s warm climate, and heat helps keep ice frozen. “The gist of the project is to actually bring the frozen north and the hot tropics into contact, to demonstrate that they are contrasting halves of a single entity, and to then utilize the heat and light energy of the South to maintain the exact opposite condition of sub-zero temperatures. The first part of the project is about the conceptual notion of cie and heat as the poles of our environment; the second part is about the miracles of technology, which can use one extreme of temperature to produce the other.” (Richard Benson: Dean, Yale University School of Art)

This project also proposed a battle against the effects of entropy. It is a displacement that references the work of Robert Smithson, Gordon Matta Clark, and more recently Olafur Eliasson in an April 2006 exhibition. Strachan’s ideas go beyond the forcible displacement of the ice to a remote location, however. He is concerned with how physical space displacement changes our reality.  From sculpting an invisible cube of heat, or listening to the sound of an ant walking, to re-creating the light conditions of one part of the world in another, Strachan’s propositions are engrossed with the presence of things physically missing or immediately distant. What is physically present becomes dematerialized and reappears as a collision between technology and the natural world.

Tavares Strachan was born in the Bahamas. He holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Yale University.