the north face parka sale aAron munson brings the isolation of the north to dc3
As metaphors for depression and isolation go, aAron munson couldn have done much better than his ambitious new art show at dc3 Art Projects, which sprang from a 1975 diary entry written by his father in cold hell. Munson, aAron dad, was just 19 and fresh off a sunny Ontario farm, suddenly working for an unbroken year as a weather observation technician at the Station on Ellef Ringnes Island one of Canada most remote northern points on the barren skull of our planet.
During three months of continuous night with scant contact with the outside, the elder Munson made just one entry in his personal diary, alluding to madness and suicide. am not living, he wrote, existing. himself threaded in and out of depression, the younger munson was drawn into this bleak testimony as a sort of personal Rosetta Stone, sensing something too familiar. voice changed before and after , says the filmmaker and media artist. set him on a trajectory for the rest of his life. with the station, in 2013 munson produced a show with artist David Hoffos at the Art Gallery of Alberta (redeployed and expanded within this dc3 show), which included projections and a museum quality scale model of the station.
And so, spending $30,000 to get himself, a guide and eight bags of equipment into the high Arctic, he headed to the ruins of the station, abandoned by Environment Canada in the desert of snow since 1978.
could feel the rest of the world being at a distance I never felt before, even in Siberia. You do feel like you on another planet. his armed guide Mark Amarualik, a hunter from Resolute Bay, Nunavut, munson spent a week in screaming winds which can hit 100 km/h, the sun never setting, inside building walls either half buried or twitching like gutted salmon in the wind.
had a pile of gear we had to drag up this hill, as the plane took off I was like, Am I in over my head? It was the first time in my life I thought I might actually die.
thought it would be a cruel irony if I ended up dying in the place my father contemplated suicide. truth, muson literally had to sign his life away, with waivers to Crown. said, for liability, have to tell you you shouldn go. You not permitted to go in the buildings. But of course he did, moving methodically from room to room as he captured stunning photos set in glowing lightboxes at dc3 of decay, erosion and the unending insistence of ice and snow.
A photo by aAron munson taken up at the abandoned weather research base in northern Nunavut.
The two slept in an insulated tent where an old yellow truck sits entombed in its garage like some frozen Pharaoh. Lampposts peek pathetically from massive drifts. Dishes are still stacked in the kitchen. Beds and chairs are barnacled with ice.
wasn all about trying to document it. Half of it was observation, trying to take in the experience. My guide was there, but we would often wander off and be alone. artist, who crawled over drifts to squeeze into just a foot or two of open doorway and suffered frostbite, was reminded again and again, is unconcerned with what we creating and the life we building. said, leave parts of ourselves wherever we are, in memory, especially if it quite traumatic it leaves a piece of you. It not the ghost of my dad up there, but it this impression that he made on the space that still there.
found the room that was his bedroom that he was writing his diary in. That gave so much more perspective to what it was actually like to be there for him. How desperate it could been, how lonely. Even after a week it was incredible, but a week of hearing that wind, that level of isolation, when the plane landed I was very happy to get out of there. the large and luminous photos, munson five minute film is simply beautiful. Striking in the scenes of sundogs and ruin: the absence of colour,
as if it gave up and fled south. His guide is proxy for his father, sitting in a frozen chair as the heat slowly leaks from his unseen face.
Around the gallery, besides Hoffos diorama and projection, Gary James Joynes made menacing audio compositions from munson field recordings of the wind. Edmonton indie film MacGuyver Larry Kelly built a tin shed, down to fake snowdrifts creeping up the edges. Inside, a VR unit uses munson 360 degree footage. And the show entrance is a 700 per cent scaled up parka hood, framed, cross stitched and sewn by Dara Humniski (full disclosure here, we married). The hood it was based on was Doug Munson up north, which aAron later wore for years when he was younger.
Doug Munson and his son aAron munson, an artist and filmmaker who followed his dad’s footsteps in the Canadian North and made a compelling art show about it.
It must be noted, aAron dad is very much alive and kicking and he walks around the emerging install with a sense of wonder. haven gotten 100 per cent out of him why he wanted to go up there, Munson laughs.
As for why he went up north all those years ago, was my choice and it wasn At the end of the job interview, they pointed to a circle on a map saying, the way, this is where we want you to go. Out of 50 people, they chose five, and I was one of them. I had no idea what I was getting into.
had to be dressed from head to toe, especially if you go outside with wind chills of 75 C. Flight boots, insulated parka, ski mask. You can expose your flesh for any length of time. when the power failed for 12 hours during a blizzard, it dropped to 14 C inside. butter was frozen. You couldn take a nap, because you had to make sure you got through it. And it took a day to warm up again.
seemed like everything was against you, but we got through it. weather research station was run by 10 men, with two huskies, King and Maggie, to scare off wolves and polar bears. the coldest weather they holed up in a snow bank, they didn come inside. younger munson was in when the sun never set, but his father lived through its various forms of darkness. thinking, is the sun ever going to come back? Seasonal Affective Disorder, they didn talk about that back then.
coped however they could, a lot took to the bottle. One guy grabbed the fire extinguisher and started spraying it we had to lock him in, he had too much.
few people stayed up there too long. When they did get out they still wore their parkas down south.
a filmmaker or media artist, to create work that encourages the conversation about something that impacts me, what backdrop to you use? I not a man of many words, to talk about it is even difficult. How do you create something visual that talks about that in a more abstract way? I felt was the perfect backdrop.
can feel that level of isolation right here, he says, pointing at his head. don need to go to the North Pole. We so connected now, but that can encourage a disconnect, and impact the closeness we used to have with each other, because we only had each other then. brings it back to his dad. could just as easily have walked out into a blizzard and never come back. Each of us that do struggle with our own periods of depression or trauma, that we persevere, the future that that creates trails off, but amid the howling wind and haunting light of this beautifully transformed space, the message is clear enough: whatever nature insists upon, no matter how hard it gets, this life is worth fighting for. 17.