Too Far North

A polar bear peers over the ice floe edge in a diorama looking through a cage of glass much like a museum or a bear trapped at a zoo. The most powerful carnivore in the world is disappearing due to global warming. How can a beast so powerful can also be so vulnerable?

The wilderness ideal presupposes that there are parts of the world untouched by humankind, but today it is impossible to find a place on Earth that is unmarked by human activity. The truth is humans have been impacting their natural environment for centuries. The wilderness so beloved by conservationists — places “untrammeled by man” — never existed, at least not in the last thousand years, and arguably even longer. We are disassociated from the north, and from our natural environment. For many in urban environment, the north is an imaginary place.

For the Sound Symposium at Eastern Edge Gallery in St. John’s Andrea Cooper created a cinematic audio installation of the north mimicking museum dioramas, using materials as simple as fabric and crumpled paper. Two video projections were placed side by side on the gallery walls. The videos show two trapped polar bears have an intimate conversation about loss, love and disappearing.