Q&A WITH CHRISTINA SEELY
We are very proud to support photographer Christina Seely in her fundraising efforts for her new project, Markers Of Time. Christina is a widely successful artist and had a solo exhibition of her series Lux at the Photo Center in 2009, you may also see one of her pieces at Photolust, our 6th Annual Benefit Auction in October, 2011. We asked Christina some questions about her fascinating new project and she sure had some good answers! Christina has been very busy, so check it out!
Make sure to watch her amazing video on her Kickstarter page and hear directly from the artist about her new project.
Q +A with Christina Seely
In 2009 you had a very successful solo exhibition of your body of work titled Lux at the Photo Center. What has happened with Lux since and where are you now?
Since my show at the Photo Center in 2009 Lux has gotten a lot of attention. It’s been an exciting time. Work from Lux has been included in a number of exhibitions at places like; The Museum of Contemporary Photography in Chicago, The Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Institute for Contemporary Art in San Jose, work is currently a part of Earth Now: American Photographers and the Environment at the New Mexico Museum of Art, and banners of the work have been hanging as a public art installation in city hall in San Francisco for the last year through a San Francisco Arts Commission. Work has also be acquired by a number of collections including The West Collection and Fidelity Management Collection and published in Adbusters, on the NPR blog and featured in the Huffington Post.
Lux documents man-made light and the disconnect between its beauty and its consequences. Similarly, your new project Markers Of Time explores the way our planet’s natural cycles are being disrupted. Can you tell us more about Markers Of Time and what you are hoping to achieve with this project?
Climate change is a massively complex topic with effects too subtle in more
southerly regions for most of us to notice in our daily lives. But up in the arctic,
its impacts are far easier to see. My goal with Markers of Time is to visually describe the impact of these changes in ways that viewers can immediately and viscerally comprehend. I also want to suggest that in some ways, the warming of the planet is an unintended consequence of our attempts to control time – which has disconnected us from the natural rhythms and cycles that are necessary not just for the health of the planet, but for humanity as well.
To do so, I am putting together a set of singular images or diptychs that explore a range of ideas relating to natural and human-made time. In particular, I hope to highlight the ways in which climate change is affecting the rhythms of coat changing species, the melt time of glaciers, and the migratory timing of birds and marine mammals. By drawing attention to these natural cycles and how they’re changing, I hope to inspire viewers to become more invested in what happens beyond their manmade controllable environments and reconsider the way they think of time.
Markers of Time officially began in 2010 when I moved up to Alaska for the
six months between summer and winter solstices to experience the cycles of
the far North firsthand. I chose this length of time not just because I was curious
about what going from 20 hours of daily light to 20 hours of darkness would do
me biologically, but because I wanted to have an extended chance to pay close
attention to natural rhythms from which, like most urban dwellers, I am usually
disconnected. Over those six months I worked with wildlife biologists and park
rangers and photographed Sand Hill Cranes migrating over Denali National Park,
and ice floes marking tidal cycles in the Anchorage Bay. I traveled up to Barrow,
Alaska for five days of perpetual night over winter solstice where I photographed
the solstice full moon rising over the frozen Arctic Ocean. And I am up in Alaska now for six weeks to continue the work.
This new work seems to take on a different format than your last projects. The images hold individual meaning, seemingly disconnected at first, but eventually all addressing an overarching theme. Each set of images is almost object-like, primarily driven by technical data, shifting patterns, species impact, local people and other bits of facts and particulars. Can you elaborate on this form of image-making?
Instead of creating a serial project like Lux, for Markers of Time I am putting together a set of singular images or diptychs that explore a range of related ideas. For example the image diptych of the arctic foxes shows that the coat changing timing of this species is out of synch with new weather patterns. Their evolutionary adaptability cannot keep up with the rate of change brought on by global warming so their future survival as a species is now threatened by this shift. The snow fall has been pushed back by climate change and now there is a period of time where instead of being camouflaged by their surroundings they are bright white on the brown tundra and incredibly vulnerable.
Another example that exhibits a dialogue between manmade scheduled time and
natural celestial happenings is the diptych of the super moon rising on the right
with a flight taking off out of Anchorage airport on the left with its paired image
showing the Northern Lights with the truck passing on the road beneath. One
sense of time is seemingly controllable, the other not at all. The idea here is to
get viewers thinking about the difference between these two time relationships.
To understand this difference is to connect to the bigger picture.
Use the snowy owls as a third example –
I recently went back up to Barrow, AK for six days to photograph the summer
solstice midnight sun and to photograph Snowy Owls with a leading owl expert.
The snowy owl and its food source, the lemming, are indicator species for climate
change. The health of lemming populations, which many higher-level predators
including the majestic Snowy Owl rely on for survival, indicates the strength of
the entire system from bottom (what the lemmings eat) up (to their predators).
The condition of the owl population and the timing and abundance of their food supply thus serves as a reflection of the health of the overall arctic ecosystem.
Markers of Time like Lux is about getting the individual to connect directly from their micro perspective to the macro or global perspective. Both projects pose questions like: What are the smaller parts that make up the greater global whole and how do they relate? This set of more object like and singular pieces in Markers of Time that then weave together and interrelate, communicates the complexity of the issue being addressed and allow each image to be considered both as it’s own discreet idea and as a part of the larger picture.
How can we help you make this a success?
This project takes a great deal of travel, coordination and planning and so far it has been largely self funded so I am looking for ways to get some financial backing for the work. Along with looking for sponsorship I am currently in the last stages of a Kickstarter to raise funds for Markers of Time. I have until July 17th to reach my goal of $10,000 on Kickstarter and time is running out.
The Photo Center community can help me make the project a success by donating to the Kickstarter and spreading the word. Any and all amounts are helpful (And note if you do not like to donate online you can email me directly for instructions). I greatly appreciate the support and thanks for taking a look!
For collectors and art lovers out there, along with my own prints from the new project there are some amazing pieces that have been donated as pledge rewards by artists: Eirik Johnson, Young Suk Suh, Kota Ezawa, Rebecca Foster and a new up and comer Parker Tilghman. The investment in their incredible work will be doubly worth your while.
Thank you Christina, we can’t wait to see how the project comes together!
Thank you Photo Center!
Cheers from Alaska,