In 1910, British explorer Robert Falcon Scott set off on an ill-fated and impractically planned expedition in which he attempted to be the first to reach the South Pole.  Upon leaving base camp at Cape Evans, and after over two months of difficult travel, he arrived at the pole, on January 17, 1912, only to discover a cairn built by and marking the earlier success of the Norwegian expedition led by Roald Amundsen.  Scott and the five members of his party who had made the final assault with him now faced a grim and difficult return journey. By late March, only Scott and two other members of the expedition were still alive. Scott’s journal, dated March 29, 1912, ends with the sentence, “It seems a pity but I do not think I can write more.”

This sentence is the only text in this moving tribute to Scott’s heroic journey. Created 100 years later, in 2012, by German artist Veronika Schäpers, the book isolates the potent last words of Scott’s journal from his other entries by depicting the latter only with Scott’s periods, punctuation marks represented by tiny silicon tubes inserted into the twelve sheets of the clear, heavily scratched polyester film which is used for the leaves of the book.  One of the sheets is punched with many small holes which spell out Scott’s last sentence in a ghostly line across the page.

Schäpers’ treatment evokes the feeling that Scott’s sentence is frozen in the ice for all time.  In this long, horizontal format book, she has inserted tiny icicle-like silicon tubes into the material on both the exterior and interior of the covers. A row of tubes that extends through the thickness of the book binds the pages together.  The transparent polyester and silicon book is housed in a two-piece box made of semi-transparent white acrylic which accentuates the impression of being trapped in ice. The box itself is wrapped in a white felt blanket. Characteristically of all her work, Schäpers has chosen materials that convey the essence of the book’s message: the frozen, white, and deadly landscape of Antarctica.

 

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© 2018 Boreas Fine Art