A friend and colleague who recently returned from a trip to the Arctic went on and on about the numerous varieties and forms of ice she encountered on her travels near the North Pole. She spoke of the mysterious, intense cerulean blue light that emanated from the interiors of the icebergs and flows. Only a hint of such things came across in her snapshots.
In this stunning photo exhibition titled "Ice(s)" by veteran New York conceptualist and video artist Dan Asher, however, I could see exactly what my friend might have meant. The dozen or so large-scale C-prints on view, most about 28-by-38 inches, are radiant images of icebergs and exotic birds that the artist took during a recent voyage to the South Pole. Asher has indeed captured the awesome beauty of the huge chunks of ice with their glowing blue interiors.
But these dazzling photos are not made simply as an art-world version of what you might see in the pages of National Geographic. Asher's project has a provocative edge that sparks discussions of melting polar ice caps and global warming. The photos of birds in particular convey the fragility of an imperiled ecosystem struggling to survive in this remote place near the edge of the dying earth.
Dan Asher, "Ice(s)," Sept. 9-Oct. 2, 1999, at Grant Selwyn Fine Art, 37 West 57th St., New York, N.Y. 10019.