In Buenos Aires


Philippe Boissonet and his work, CP/Toms, Ozono Global. 2006.


In brief, I am here.

It’s 03:50, or 4.50am, as I write from the Dazzler Hotel in Buenos Aires.

Just yesterday I arrived, after 24 hours flying the long way from Sydney, via Los Angeles and Dallas. Notes will follow, on things I felt, heard, read, and saw during that journey. Listing them here will remind me: Archetypal landscape images of Antarctica in the Rime of the Ancient Mariner; a Whispering Gallery; the changed structure of the brain since Shackleton; the icons of Fiona MacDonald’s Millenium Tympanum; the idea that northern and southern brain hemispheres might meet in the human mind, through the image of the “mundus subteraneus” (which I meet again in Philippe Boissonneet’s photocollages; the “time share on reality” (John Hughes) in Peter Delpeut’s film, The Forbidden Quest (1992) that appropriates other people’s material (including Ponting) and takes us into the hollow earth.

My mundus subteraneus is a dreamscape, like one I’ve had before. It is a painting that I make, and that makes me. I am at once composing, and being composed!

Before I left I’d heard a friend describe the landscape of his dreams – a place where all dreams happen, and conncet in strange ways. He can move between its spaces from different perspectives.

I am drawn to the hollow earth as a metaphor for a universal subconsciousnous of Antarctic landscape, where Freud and Jung can meet. And the Aboriginal and Chinese.
This is a landscape for journeying through symbols.

Who has captured consciousness in art?

Jonathan Leary (sp?), in his book Proust was a neuroscientist, discusses artists who have: Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, and others.
Mind naturally imposes meanings onto words.
For this reason, he says, Woolf failed in her aim to write in pure abstractions.


Layers of symbols and words form an archeology of mind.
Over time, they can fill the hollow.
Their meanings can quench the thirst to know.

Melbourne scientist Derek Denton has just published some research into thirst (see recent ABC Radio National, Science Report podcast).

Thirst, he said, is an instinct of intent – of consciousness of a need to gratify. As babies we know to drink just as much as we need. This chages as we age, and we can die from dehydration. However, he said, we have social drinking patterns that accomodate our needs.

What other instincts might there be that we have lost?
What other instincts are displaced by cultural conventions, like afternoon tea?


On the plane I watch again the documentary, Crude. Third time round I see the cycle of crude oil creation as a metaphor for knowledge cycling through generations: accumulating, dissipating and accumulating.


When walking through England I will look for signs of fairies. I will look into the landscape and the art its people have made from it.

I don’t have to believe in things to draw them.


Artists, curators and academics participating in Sur Polar have come to Buenos Aires from around the world. A small community is forming, like those transient Antarctic ones most of us have experienced, or studied: Nina Colosi, New York; Annick Bureaud, Paris; Philippe Boissonnet and lorraine Beulieu, Canada; Phil Dadson, New Zealand; Pamen Pereira, Spain; Karin Beaumont and me; Australia. We are introduced to some of the Argentinians organising and participaing in Sur Polar, including Andrea Juan, the artist who convened it.