South Pole Installation

Xavier Cortada, The Longitudinal Installation (at the South Pole), 2007

Miami artist Xavier Cortada purchased 12 identical pairs of black shoes and shipped them to Antarctica.

Cortada also captured newspaper quotes from people across the 24 time zones about the impact of climate change on their lives.  (Please click here to read them).

In Antarctica, Cortada painted the approximate longitudes of the country in which the quote originated inside 24 shoes (so that in the South Pole each could be aligned with the longitude corresponding to the location on Earth where the voices originated).

To paint the shoes, Cortada mixed acrylic paint with soil samples from the Dry Valleys in Antarctica, one of the places on Earth most susceptible to climate change.

Cortada  then flew to the South Pole and placed the 24 shoes inches apart in a circle along the South Pole, each aligned with its corresponding longitude as it converged on the South Pole.

The artist then walked to the 0 degree longitude, the prime meridian, and walked clockwise around the pole, stopping at each shoe to recite each of 24 quotes.

Placing the shoes next to each other as a proxy for people across the globe, I conceptually diminish the distance between them.

We are one global community.  Creating this installation in a continent with no borders, the artist aims to diminish the man-made barriers in the world above it.  Voices simultaneously stand in their place (longitude) around the world and inches away from one another.


Click here to download the Longitudinal Installation 90S Soundscape,
a recording of Cortada’s ritualistic performance at the South Pole.
By sound artist Juan Carlos Espinosa.

Cortada installed the work at the South Pole as part of his fellowship through the National Science Foundation Antarctic Artists and Writers Program.