Artful Green Dot

Melting Art Objects: David Kennedy-Cutler’s Antarctica

Posted in Uncategorized by Audrey Tran on March 20, 2009

Although I met David Kennedy-Cutler for a talk several weeks ago, this might be the perfect time to blog about his Antarctic Soap Multiples in light of the new study from the journal, Nature.

I heard about the study first from DotEarth and then later on NPR . The study concludes that the West Antarctic ice sheet will collapse within a process spanning several thousand years.

While other bloggers nitpick over what the results of the study mean, I want to turn towards an art piece from 2006 that brings us this discussion through a totally different medium: soap.


For this piece, David created 500 palm sized Antarcticas out of “Arctic Breeze” scented soap.

These multiples were made for North Drive Press, an annual publication that routinely includes 3-d multiples amongst interviews and prints.

While David doesn’t consider himself a political artist, others have told him his work is indeed political.

“The thought of Antarctica was just something that permeated my work,” he said. “It was in our mass consciousness at the time.”

In February, David  gave a lecture at NYU regarding the use of multiples throughout different moments of art history.

I saw the piece for the first time during his lecture, and throughout the talk, I knew I wanted to interview David about Antarctica because he didn’t seem like he was explicitly trying to create Eco Art.

In our talk, David said, “I don’t identify with the term, because I don’t consider myself an eco artist.”

It seems that while creating  Antarctica David’s thoughts worked around a fascination with the sublime:

“I’m interested in this intangible, changing phenomenon that can’t be trapped or owned….I was taking this thing that is remote and far out from us, and soap [has] this idea of purity or hygiene, and I felt that there was an equivalence to our notion of icebergs and we have this uncomplicated view of what Antarctica is or what unspoiled nature is.”

I have a soft spot for sculptures in which the medium carries the message.  Here, soap expresses the washing away of Antarctica, which David  said he felt equated with “a feeling of destiny.”

More images of Kennedy-Cutler’s Antarctica, here.

Tagged with: , , ,