Ice Trade


Installation view (Thomas Kratz, George Henry Longly, Geoffrey Farmer)

Group exhibition at Chelsea Space, London, featuring: Bernd Behr, Geoffrey Farmer, Lone Haugaard Madsen, George Henry Longly, Thomas Kratz and Florian Roithmayr, Curated by Matt Packer and Kim Dhillon, 21 January – 3 March 2007

The exhibition title references a 19th-century trade of ice that occurred between Northern Europe, Northern America, and the sub-continent, prior to the development of artificial refrigeration. The history of the ice trade corresponded to a time-specific configuration of environmental and economic processes; several weeks of transit in uninsulated hulls often resulted in quantities of ice being reduced by 50% in mass in the time taken to reach a destination and sales point.

The ice trade also featured in Henry David Thoreau’s back-to-nature, preservationist classic, Walden, where the ice-harvest of Walden Pond alludes to a clash of environmental assets and sufficiencies. Thoreau’s one-man, one-world approach is seemingly inconsolable with the million dollar international ice exports that capitalised on the ponds and lakes of rural Massachussets.

These references and their configurations serve as a loose framework for the exhibition at Chelsea Space, where Ice Trade considers questions of translation and material status at different points of reception.

Some works extend these questions with direct connection to artists of a previous generation, such as Bernd Behr’s Hotel Palindrome (before R.Smithson) (2006), a reconstitution of Robert Smithson’s Hotel Palenque slide-lecture that Smithson first presented to architecture students at the University of Utah in 1972. Similarly, Thomas Kratz’s performance-module, How I Explain Pictures to a Dead Hare (2006), reformatted in reference to Joseph Beuys’s seminal performance at Galerie Schmela in Dusseldorf in 1965. Works by George Henry Longly and Florian Roithmayr address the architecture of the exhibition space in formal, volumic terms, while Geoffrey Farmer and Lone Haugaard Madsen articulate the exhibition space for its reposition and performativity of practice.