Elena Mazzi was invited to a residency arranged by the Luleå Biennial in collaboration with GLAS – Glaciär arkeologi i Sápmi (Glacial archaeology in Sápmi), a multi-disciplinary research project that highlights both newer and older findings that have emerged from melting glaciers and snow patches as a result of climate change.
These objects promise to expand our knowledge of prehistoric Sápmi, as well as informing us about how the land has been utilised in modern times.
The upcoming Polar Silk Road, 2021
This work foregrounds the heightened tensions and multiple geopolitical interests within the artic region due to climate change. Revolving around the planning of the so-called “Polar Silk Road”, which describes the potential opening of a new northern route as an alternative to the Suez Canal and at the same time allowing to mine the rich resources that are hidden underneath the ice. With a focus on Iceland, The upcoming Polar Silk Road analyses the complex intertwining between economy, geopolitics, ecology and mobility within the Arctic region. A region that is affected by vast infrastructural, economic and political transformations as a result of global warming.
The work consists of a video documenting some key places of this transition, such as the possible new port of Finnafjörður in the north-east of the island and the nearby CIAO Institute, the new meteorological-astronomical observatory founded to cement the agreement between China and Iceland, countries that are now protagonists in the process of defining the new trade route in the Arctic. The work is divided into a series of interviews with figures who contributed to the design of these places, local politicians, researchers, fishermen and farmers. The interviews were reshaped by the artist in a text accompanying the video images, adding an additional level of reading, halfway between fiction and reality.
Sápmi Flatbed, 2022
Archaeologists working on the project GLAS – Glaciär arkeologi i Sápmi collect materials that emerge and become accessible as glacial ice melt. In Sápmi Flatbed, Elena Mazzi has chosen to follow the research process itself, rather than its results, and explore the conditions in which knowledge is created. The title comes from the Russian American art critic Leo Steinberg’s concept of the “flatbed picture plane”, where a “flatbed” is a recipient of methods, information, narratives, and objects. Mazzi’s installation is a multi-dimensional rug made from several layers of recycled textiles that invite the viewer inside. Mazzi proposes a fundamental shift in perspective from the conventional, vertical axis of knowledge work that relies on observations and extractions, to a horizontal perspective revolving rather around connecting with the earth and spending time among the people and things that live in and with the land.
The artist and the organization would like to thank Giovanni Bonotto for the realization of the artwork.
Snow Dragon, 2019
Snow Dragon is the name of one of the icebreakers that China has designed to navigate the “polar silk road”, a new trade route that’s opening up in the Arctic as a result of the melting of glaciers, which will see strong commercial interests and mining networks develop, particularly between China and Iceland. This route will shorten the journey by 15 days compared to the passage through the Suez Canal that is used today. In this project, Mazzi further develops a reflection born after a residency in Iceland in 2018, where she analysed the impact of climate change on geopolitical and geological levels.
In collaboration with Giovanni Bonotto.
Elena Mazzi’s artistic explorations often address the ways that climate change is renegotiating the realities, politics, and geographies of the Arctic region. Elena Mazzi is pursuing a PhD in Arts at Villa Arson in Nice 2022–25. The title of her thesis is ”Looking at complex geographies through posthuman visualities – The Polar Silk Road”.