Fade to White
Janet Biggs, 2010.
Single-channel, high definition video, 16:9 format
Video excerpt (low resolution. Original is high definition):
Edition of 5, plus 2 APs
In Fade to White, Biggs delves into the desire to explore
remote lands. To create this work, the artist embarked on an expedition
in the high Arctic, traveling aboard an ice-class, 2-masted schooner,
built in 1910. During the voyage, Biggs filmed Fade to White, focusing
on a crew member as he navigated the ship through iceberg filled seas,
and paddled a kayak past glacier walls and polar bears.
As she photographed the explorer, Biggs tested her own will and
endurance. The visual tension of her uncompromising imagery bespeaks
their mutual struggle to maintain balance and purpose. Yet, the video
also reveals the myth of the
solitary white male explorer. Biggs explains, "The desire to hold onto
the notion of the 'great white north' as a blank space awaiting
interpretation only reinforces the idea of the colonial polar hero. The
'virgin' north has now been mapped, surveyed, and mined, but increased
knowledge has not replaced endless fantasies of discovery."
Loss and change are implicit in the video's title, Fade to White, which
refers to an editing technique used to evoke death or transcendence.
Biggs integrated her Arctic imagery with sound and video footage of
counter tenor John Kelly, whose age, androgyny, and mournful voice
parallel the vanishing Arctic landscape and signal the waning of male