“Arctic Reflections” is the product of the experiences shared between Christy Hehir and Luka Tomac on the scientific expedition to the Arctic in July 2011. They both gave their unique contributions in the formation of the homonymous publication, Christy with accounts from her behavioural research on the relationship of the travellers towards the environment visited and Luka with his distinctive pictorial documentary approach. Through the collaboration on a mutual project they wanted to demonstrate the potential of individual involvement. The ultimate objective was to subtextually expand, in an aesthetically astute way, the awareness on the extreme transformation of the landscape of a secluded and sensitive locus, as well as to quietly bring the topic of global climate changes back to the foreground.
A brief stay at a picturesque and secluded landscape such as the Arctic does not leave much room for experimentation, nor should it. It leaves the observer only with enough space for observation and meticulous recording of the exotic and that which cannot be referenced in normal everyday life. The unrepeatable nature of such a moment allows no experimentation or lethargy, but forces one to a blind following of the dictates of Nature.
The rhythm regulated by the landscapes demands subjugation to aesthetical and documentary forms in compositions, the character of which is further emphasized by his interests as an expert and activist. It is precisely the photographs that prove the dedication and utter appreciation to the motif, and their depictions enable us to unmistakably derive the integrated character of the author.
The subtext of the photographs of Luka Tomac, in their dignity and serenity, speak clearly of the alarming state of global climate changes, a topic viewed by some as being worn out.
The work from the Arctic Reflections series possesses harmony and offers a selection of inherently impressive natural motifs, together with a refined structure of scenes that respect the indigenous visual values of tone and valeur, as well as of the originally chosen scene. Preserving the photographs raw, unedited, and honest, he is treating the captured frames as the motifs in themselves. On entering the space of Galery PM all works exhibited collectively immerse the spectator into the subject of the Arctic and expanding towards the new ambiental qualities.
The didactic nature of this approach to the subject, both in implementation and mission of the works, defies the immorality of the l'art pour l'art in contemporary production. Maybe invisible at first glance, but emphasised through the message, is the mediatory and pragmatic quality of the photographs, which is manifested in the networking form as a consequence of this type of extended involvement.
He is spontaneously adhering to the usual activist "modus operandi". While at the same time opening new communications (between the audience and the involved and local protagonists) he also generates new and strengthens existing networks.
The Arctic Reflections publication is the evidence of a new network and collaboration between young scientists and activists. The photographs are supported by references to quotes from the professional paper of Christy Hehir on the behavioural changes within the individual and his attitude towards the visited landscape after a more intense (tourist) visit. The quotations additionally strengthen the relation between the observer and the reader with said location and the accompanying issues.
Interaction, between the media in the book, but the professions as well, generally stimulates interest for the understanding of the relationship between the individual and the “ecos” (greek οἶκος – house). Christy is the very one who uses her prism to raise our awareness of our insufficient knowledge of and relation to the distant phenomena and scenery.
The attempt to understand them is manifested in the careful relation between the scientific and artistic in the publication, both viewed as supreme cognitive and rational achievements of Nature.
Arctic Reflections is a publication that unpretentiously introduces us to the challenging and unexplored relationships between the two extremes: one of humanity with the Arctic, and the Arctic with the individual.
It’s 25 years since I first visited the Arctic, and I remember back then hearing the voices of disquiet from the Inuit. Taqtu had taken me onto the sea ice to look for polar bears. While we sheltered in his flapping tent during one blizzard, he spoke of how the old patterns of weather were beginning to break down. The sea ice was breaking up earlier, refreezing later. The Inuit world was altering, becoming less predictable, and more unstable.
Here was a man who had lived his life in the Arctic, whose ancestors had done so for millennia before him. I listened, feeling the strength of his emotions, the depth of his concern. His connection with his land and his passion for his way of life were clear.
It’s the same voice I hear in this book. But it’s coming now from younger people, experiencing the Arctic for their first time. It too is a voice of compassion, insight, sensitivity and determination. Their words, allied with the hauntingly evocative images, give this book its personality, encompassing a strength and honesty that together make it greater than the sum of its parts.
We know that climate change is the most important issue facing our planet today. Nowhere is this more visible than in the Arctic. Receding glaciers, thinning sea ice, fewer polar bear cubs, earlier flowering of the plants – the evidence is everywhere. And we know that when we change the vastness of the Arctic, we change the entire world.
This book has been written by people willing to assume their individual responsibility towards nature and wildlife. Please stay true to your principles that you eloquently express here. Show, teach, offer knowledge to others - and the desire to protect will surely follow. We need the politicians and leaders of industry in particular to learn to open their minds to the world beyond their balance sheets.
Everyone involved with this book - from conception, to participation, to creation - should be proud of it.
Book foreword by Doug Allan, award winning freelance wildlife and documentary cameraman