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Art Exhibit Issuing 'Passports' to Antarctica for Climate Change Awareness

By Maya Rajamani | January 29, 2016 6:09pm | Updated on February 1, 2016 8:56am
 An exhibit at the Jane Lombard Gallery in Chelsea is issuing 'Antarctica World Passports' to visitors.
Art Exhibit Issuing Antarctica 'Passports' For Climate Change Awareness
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CHELSEA — Nearly a decade ago, artists Lucy and Jorge Orta traveled to Antarctica and built a “village” of 50 dwellings out of flags from around the world, raising an “Antarctic Flag” to symbolize international unity.

At their latest interactive art exhibit inspired by the artists’ journey, visitors can pick up their own personalized “Antarctica World Passport” at a “Passport Delivery Bureau” installation made of recycled materials.

While the passport won’t get its holder through airport security, it will symbolize his or her commitment to battling global warming and promoting peace, according to the Jane Lombard Gallery, which is hosting the installation.

The traveling Delivery Bureau exhibit, which recently made stops at a global climate change consultation in Geneva and the COP21 UN Climate Summit in Paris, has issued around 55,000 passports since 2008.

Along with the installation, visitors to the gallery at 518 W. 19th St. said can view one of the domed dwellings the Ortas first constructed in Antarctica, artistic "survival kits" and other Antarctica-centric works.

The artists also hope to shed light on the 1959 Antarctic Treaty — an agreement currently signed by 53 countries that pledges only peaceful endeavors like scientific research will be carried out on the continent — as well as a 1991 protocol that bans frozen mining there until 2048.

Lucy Orta, who is currently chairwoman of Art and Environment at University of the Arts London, wrote an op-ed recently calling for unity in the climate change fight.  

“[F]or the world's population to wrestle success from the teeth of disaster will only be possible if the Antarctica Passport Bureau's magical thinking is effected in reality around the world in the coming year, and we each begin to see ourselves not as citizens of individual nations, but as a humanity united for a common cause,” she wrote.

Patrons who plan to secure a stamped passport from the exhibit, which runs until Feb. 20, can register for a personalized edition on the art project’s website.