Jessica Houston

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Horizon Felt North

I sailed on the Russian ship Akademik Ioffe, following the trail of Franklin’s voyage to discover the Northwest passage. Using the horizon and the colors of the landscape as points of reference, I placed pieces of colored felt in front of my lens while taking photographs throughout the journey. The obstruction fills the view with a color field. The felt filters and flattens part of the landscape — while simultaneously maintaining a long view. It gives tactility, joining touch with sight. Thus, the works are made with much of the landscape ‘missing’. With this gesture of intentional withholding, the image refuses completion, and becomes a site of resistance.

Abandoned outposts, remote scientific stations, and retreating glaciers speak to how economic, political and social relationships shape a space. The horizon is a viewpoint always beyond reach; it describes limits of perception. As polar space — once considered the limit of empire and human experience — becomes more encroached upon with open waters, the fight for claims to resources intensifies. These photographs refuse to 'capture' the land. Instead, they open the picture up for reconstruction in the mind of the viewer.