P—P—P—Pick Up a Penguin: Men and Animals in Antarctic Exploration
Author: Pearson, Mike
Source: Performing Nature, Issue data not provided , pp. 119-132(14)
Abstract:On 22 July 2003 marine biologist Kirsty Brown was attacked by a leopard seal whilst snorkelling at the British Antarctic Survey's Rothera Research Station and drowned. The coroner noted the dangers inherent in conducting research in the Antarctic. One of the short term projects of the charity founded in her name will be to study the behaviour of leopard seals. Ninety years previously Apsley Cherry-Garrard advocated giving seals a heavy blow with a stick to stun them and then stabbing them in the heart in order to kill them (Cherry-Garrard 1994: 165): their livers and kidneys had become expeditionary favourites. A relationship changes…
On 3 August 1895 delegates at the Sixth International Geographical Congress at the Imperial Institute in London passed a resolution declaring ‘that this Congress records its opinion that the exploration of the Antarctic regions is the greatest piece of geographical exploration still to be undertaken’ (Huntford 2000: 49). Thus commenced the so-called ‘heroic era’ of Antarctic exploration: over the next twenty years ships from Belgium, Germany, Sweden, Scotland, France, Japan and Australia journeyed south. Amongst British parties were those of Carsten Borchgrevink (Southern Cross, 1898– 1900), the first to over-winter on the continent; Robert Falcon Scott (Discovery, 1901–04, and Terra Nova, 1910–13); Ernest Shackleton (Nimrod, 1907–09, and Endurance, 1914–17). Early expeditions frequently arrived ill-prepared. After initial sledging escapades in 1902 Scott noted: ‘[t]he errors were patent; food, clothing, everything was wrong, the whole system was bad’ (Scott 2001a: 273). The quest for an effective system – a combination of shelter, clothing, equipment, nutrition and transport that would ensure survival and the success of exploratory and scientific enterprises in the coldest, driest, windiest environment on earth – came to preoccupy explorers. Some employed the latest technology, with varying success: the ‘Primus’ stove became a mainstay whilst motor vehicles failed (Norris 1993: 48–49).
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2005
- Performing Nature
The essays in this volume explore the borderland between ecology and the arts. Informed by psychoanalysis and cultural materialism, contributors to the first part, 'Spectacle: Landscape and Subjectivity', look at ways in which particular social and scientific experiments, theatre and film productions and photography either reinforce or contest our ideas about nature and human-human or human-animal relations and identities. The second part, 'World: Hermeneutic Language and Social Ecology', investigates political protest, social practice art, acoustic ecology, dance theatre, family therapy and ritual in terms of social philosophy. Contributors to the third part, 'Environment: Immersiveness and Interactivity', explore architecture and sculpture, site-specific and mediatised dance and paratheatre through radical theories of urban and virtual space and time, or else phenomenological philosophy. The final part, 'Void: Death, Life and the Sublime', indicates the possibilities in dance, architecture and animal behaviour of a shift to an existential ontology in which nature has 'the capacity to perform itself'.
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