In each installment, a guest writer chooses one Pantone color they find particularly meaningful, intriguing, or just aesthetically beautiful—and tells us why.

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By VestAndPage (Verena Stenke & Andrea Pagnes), a collaboration between a German artist and a Venetian artist

His feet were two glass blades. He crawled in some places, frost also has bitten his hands but no one wants to leave him behind. While they others were sleeping, he steps out into eternity. His last words were: “I am just going outside and may be some time.”1

We shot the final episode of our performance-based art film trilogy sin∞fin The Movie, titled: Performances at the Core of the Looking-Glass, between January and February 2012, on the Antarctic Peninsula, the Weddell Sea and the Bransfield Strait. 

We spent 40 days surrounded by drifting icebergs sometimes stranded along the shores and melting glaciers whipped by harsh snow blizzards, to confront the comprehensive spheres of nature and universe with our human inner and private ones.

After a few days of acclimatization, we felt virtually expanding and retracting with the perennial motus of the Antarctic environment, its deserted icy vastness that, oneiric at first sight, tells repeatedly of a merciless ruthless beauty where anything is a mirror. 

In a land where all living creatures are continuously being torn between life and death, men must instead abandon any quotidian scheme and habit, assuming only the basic rules for surviving, for this is a place where humans have neither roots, nor a future, but only a frail and temporary presence always at risk. 

Ice in Antarctica gives no linearity, only fragmentation, subverting continuously the patterns of whatsoever experimentation, creation and fruition. Its powerful force flows out of its iridescent white color, reflecting and absorbing all that we call image and sound, all that moves, revolves and stands still. It is a kind of white that constraints, restrains, removes sharpness, unravels confusion and harmonizes brightness while white out-blinding the eyes. It makes the shard round, is wholly without attachment, one with everything. Pellucid, the Antarctic ice bears the appearance of permanence, reducing all questions inevitably to humbleness, silence, acceptance, and finally absence. Inside and outside lose their gaps and edges.

We performed facing off the frosty endlessly whiteness as emptiness, resembling non-fullness, allowing no invasion, as if it were the ancestors of all forms and more real than reality itself, a Kantian “thing per se”: a noumenon, more than a phenomenon and its magnitude the source of depth and whatsoever is.

Faraway there, also time flows differently than we are used to: it strips off all pretensions, confronting us humans only in what we are able to make, as obliged by a paradigm of endurance, resistance and defiance. 

There is crudely crowned by beauty and danger in form and substance within all this, and man can hardly expressed it through interpretations that remain subject of situations that put the consciousness continuously to face the concerns of life and death, as existence from the depths of being, where the nothingness is like a well, always giving, never taking, yet unreachable, claiming origin, neither wanting or forsaking, ever present. A nothingness whiter than every imaginable white, that leaves us transfixed or that might be visualized only where we have no more features, nor faces: something that is probably possible to touch in the wondrous blessing of a graceful death. 

Contemplating the gelid blankness, we realized how much the inner look is essential, because the act of looking inside is often more than the idea itself. Compared to the Great White, any idea is like a lost ray of light that rapidly flashes and disappears, desperately white, its essence the evidence of being that “forced the question, the one which sent us skittering and wandering for these landscapes, East to West North to South searching effortlessly for it, for that elusive out there which seemed certainly contain our answer.”2


Text excerpted, revised and re-written from:

VestAndPage (Pagnes, Andrea. Stenke, Verena). “Antarctic Dream – Ice as Architecture of the Human Spirit | VestAndPage performative works in Antarctica.” Performance Research. Routledge Journals, London: Taylor & Francis. Volume 18, December 2013, Issue 6 “On Ice”, pp.71-80.

1. Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s entry in his diary about Lawrence Oates’ last words on their Antarctic Expedition “Terra Nova”, 1912. Lawrence Oates pronounced this sentence before walking from his tent into the blizzard on the 16th of March 1912 to find his death. Oates was lieutenant of Robert Falcon Scott. His sentence reported by Scott in his log records during the Terra Nova Expedition.

Source: Simpson-Housley, Paul. Antarctica: exploration, perception, and metaphor. London: Routledge, 1992, p.36.

2. Woob. Giant Stroke. Nottingham: Em:t records, 26 may 1997. 8:43. Lyrics (partly rewritten by the authors).


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