Arctic Views in Boston

The new building for the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston opened this past week, revealing expansive perspectives of the sky and the waterfront, not to mention the art inside. Thanks to the work of Jane D. Marsching, one of the artists in the opening exhibition, the new ICA also provides an intimate view of the Arctic. Marsching's Arctic Listening Post encompasses a series of digital prints and a blog, developed with Matthew Shanley, that illuminate diverse perceptions of this remote territory. Aptly titled Climate Commons, the blog is lead by fourteen professionals, including artists, a climatologist, a novelist, and an Episcopalian priest, who exchange thoughts on climate change and sustainability with an emphasis on the Arctic. The project draws on Marsching's previous work DeepNorth, a year-long 'virtual expedition' in which the artist trawled online sources for digital artifacts that represented ways the North Pole has been romanticized and, simultaneously, deteriorated over recent years. DeepNorth's collection of images, sound and miscellaneous media amount to a scrapbook by a voyeuristic culture, one that imagines the place but has never actually been. Arctic Listening Post affords a more engaged interaction: the viewer can not only absorb observations of the area but also, through Climate Commons, leave their footprint in the digital snow. - Lauren Cornell