The Forest / The Museum of Dying Giants

Museum of Dying Giants

Museum of Dying Giants

My recent work explores our both romantic and catastrophic relationship to the natural world. These images, taken from both from the Arctic and from Arizona, depict contemporary people lost in a forest of fading pine trees and inexplicable events. In 2007, I spent the summer at an artist’s residency in Newfoundland, Canada. The dire beauty of the icebergs and pine forests compelled me to focus on the fragile ecosystems of the cold north. My current series explores humanity’s skewed relationship with nature, through allegories of displacement. In these works, buffalo wander in an Arctic blizzard, icebergs are displaced into bathtubs, an entire forest is now inside of a tent (rather than the tent being inside of the forest), and a fleet of grossly engorged jellyfish drift through an arid Arizona museum space. Images of the broiling deserts of the Southwest and the collapsing ice shelves of the Arctic poles are casually conflated, suggesting mysterious ecological links between the two. Recently, I was awarded a grant to visit Glacier National Park, making video work of the park’s vanishing glacial ice. The resulting series focuses on Global Warming and its children; melting icecaps, dying pine forests in Arizona and throughout the Americas, and the rise of oceans around the world.

My work’s recent focus on themes of icebergs and forests reflects my interest
 in the effects of climate change on our world. The icebergs that I so avidly watched in Newfoundland had calved from the Greenland ice shelf, and were now floating south, slowly melting like forgotten mythologies- the death of gods or giants. The instability of the world’s vanishing glaciers represents not only an encroaching environmental disaster, but also the end of our cultural myths of the Arctic. The northern landscape has been an archetype of the eternal-
white, pure, unpolluted by the habitation of man, and a powerful evocation of 
the aesthetic sublime, with its enchanting and deadly beauty. 
 By trapping an actual dying pine forest in a fantasy Arctic diorama, Museum of Dying Giants exposes the disparity between our dream of the Arctic, and its imperiled reality.

-Gwyneth Scally