Curated by Rod Taylor
Glaciers are elemental – their movement and melting has shaped the earth, abrading and altering the landscape. But beyond what they have done in the past, glaciers are important to the earth’s future. Glacial ice is the largest reservoir of fresh water on earth, and their melting directly contributes to variations in sea level. With few exceptions, glaciers are now retreating at unprecedented rates, with many predicted to disappear within the next several decades.
Jan Kabatoff’s fascination with them has led her to travel to seven glaciers on three continents. Her interest is not only in exploring their terrain, but also their role as one of the most sensitive indicators of climate change. Ice Flows and Sound Retreats is a visual and aural expression of that interest, an exploration of its own in a range of media and presentation. These works not only document an artistic journey, but form a composite portrait of an important part of our world that is rapidly changing, largely due to human activity.
Ice and Water have been recurring themes in my work for many years, standing in as metaphors of change and transformation. Increasingly, glaciers have been a source of deep interest and concern for me, as global warming accelerates their melting rate. As a result I have journeyed to numerous glaciers, from Alberta to the southernmost reaches of South America, in order to chart the impact of climate change on glaciers and map their transformation. I now understand them as not only storehouses of fresh water vital to our survival, but also as sentient beings and I strive to grasp their ephemeral nature to better understand our interconnectedness with the natural world. As an artist, it is both an honour and a responsibility to stand in the presence of these disappearing icons, and be able to share this experience with others