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GELATERIA ANTARTICA, on-camera performance, Gedser Air Residency, Denmark, 2021


Two polar explorers – Alina and Czesław Centkiewiczs – wrote in a book entitled Direction: Antarctica (Kierunek Antarktyda) that the amount of ice on the Earth “has an astronomical dimension”*, and so it is beyond our imagination. In order to make it more tangible they used the following comparison: “Let us assume that all people living on our planet would like to eat the entire Antarctic ice one day. Then everyone, from a baby to a decrepit old man, would have to swallow half a ton of ice in a second, thirty tons in a minute, eighteen hundred tons in an hour. And so, without a break, without a moment's rest, they would have to eat this ice for 24 hours a day, a whole week, a whole month. And all year round ... ".* With this stimulating vision they argued that humans are unable to consume the eternal ice covering the poles. And indeed, it is physically impossible to literally swallow eighteen hundred tons of ice per hour. I myself was able to consume a bit more than a glass of ice in a given time. Inspired by the vision of people eating frozen water, I did challenge myself to check the limits of my own digestive system. It took me one hour to physically absorb approximately 0.25 litres of ice. 

On  one hand, this simple act of eating ice refers to the insatiable nature of humankind that results in the exploitation of natural goods, such as, for example, frozen water at the North or South Pole. Can we melt the Arctic or Antarctic ice? Can we consume and digest it all? And what happens then - will we drown or will we freeze?

On the other hand, from this imaginative example given by Centkiewiczs one could get a suggestion, that deposit of ice is virtually inexhaustible. And of course back then the vision of accelerated ablation of permafrost was even more unimaginable than that of billions of people voraciously devouring ice. But now we are experiencing the climate crisis that is most visible in the changing arctic environment. The glaciers are melting, yet people still behave carelessly and think only about the upcoming vacation and ice cream.

**Alina i Czesław Centkiewiczowie, Kierunek Antarktyda, wyd. Iskry, Warszawa 1967, s. 109.

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