Busy days

Tags: Francesca Galeazzi

So much has happened onboard and on shore these last couple of days, that I find it very hard to keep up with my blog update. Sorry sorry!!!

Since I did my Carbon Emission piece on Monday, there has been quite a lot of debate on board, especially after I read my blog Justifying bad behaviour to the group after dinner. In response to Pie and Miss Lake’s comments, a few people on board were quite upset by my gesture, they thought it was outrageous. But generally I got lots of support for what was perceived as thought provoking and courageous. What I have consequently learnt, is that we usually get upset for what we can tangibly see and feel, not necessarily for what we know. Some of my fellow voyagers were upset about my piece because they could visualise that black ‘nasty’ cylinder full of CO2 in a way that they couldn’t, if I told them that every time they drive their car for 30 miles they emit the same amount of carbon dioxide. So I wonder if the societal shift that I was advocating with my performance could be achieved if we would find a more direct way to visualise the Carbon impact of the resources we use! Any ideas?

I would to clarify also that I didn’t carry out this performance/action/ intervention (I struggle to put it in a specific category) for the sake of art, but because I believe that art has the power to communicate ideas and big messages in a way that other disciplines – like science or engineering – cannot do. Art carries an intrinsic huge responsibility towards humanity because it talks to hearts and minds in a very intuitive and visceral way. This is the main reason behind my decision to narrate my scientific understanding of climate change through a form of quite provocative artistic intervention.

Yesterday we went to the lovely town of Uummannaq, where our Inuit guide Ludvig comes from. According to him it is the greatest place in all Greenland, and I have to admit it, I loved it. It is a small town set on the hills of a small island, not even 2000 inhabitants. The little harbour welcomes us with a majestic snow storm, so intense that the multitude of colourful houses scattered on the hills looked like an alpine ski resort (with a harbour!). What looked quite unsettling though, was the abundant blood that could be seen immediately below the powdery fresh snow on the pier, to remind us all of the primary activity of this little heaven: whale and seal fishing. The town still preserves some of the traditional turf houses that the Inuit people used to live in. They are tiny single-space huts, with a stove at the centre of the room, some space to lay down and lots of utensils, seal skins, carved tools with obscure uses. We visit the church afterwards and then the orphanage, where the kids put together a great display of traditional music and live singing, information on the activities of the children’s house and a banquet of cakes that could compete with the best high tea at Claridges! Wonderful! Here for the first (and last) time in my life, I eat raw seal liver, raw seal meat and some dry whale meat, which are a fundamental part of the Inuit diet. Usually I like to try local cuisine wherever I travel to, but this was clearly pushing the boundaries of what I am prepared to taste!

I made a new friend outside the Children’s Home, a curious Greenlandic dog that followed me for a while, tried to eat my gloves and loved my cuddles… or maybe it was the smell of fresh seal blood in my fingers that attracted him so much??? Anyway, the more sledge dogs I see, the more I realise that they have a pretty miserable life: they are basically chained all their life: in summer chained in the fields around town (fed 2 or 3 times a week, remember?) and in the winter tied to the sledge.
In the evening the great musicians in the group put together an amazing gig by playing together at the Uummannaq Hotel. A curiosity that I found quite interesting is that, as soon the gig was over, some courageous Greenlandic people took over the stage to perform their traditional songs. This is something that we would never do back home, but here they are so proud of their culture that they find any occasion to celebrate it.

Very admirable!!!

And finally when we left the hotel we saw the northern lights floating and dancing on the sky above us. It was astonishing! It was the first time that I saw the aurora borealis. I still find it impossible to describe the mysterious ephemeral beauty of those faint green lights.
What a day!!!!

More news tomorrow, when I am going to do another art project involving a park bench that suddenly find itself floating I the middle of the Arctic sea! Check it out!


  1. The Modesto Kid

    Posted Friday 3 Oct at 14:17 | Permalink

    if we would find a more direct way to visualise the Carbon impact of the resources we use

    This is spot on. I had a pretty visceral negative reaction to the CO2 cylinder but when you state it as the equivalent of driving 30 miles, it makes a lot of sense.

  2. Birdie

    Posted Monday 6 Oct at 06:23 | Permalink

    Hark, a new idea!

    Borrowing from 12 step programs – I think a campaign that is a series of PSA’s that have all kinds of people who have all kinds of jobs – housewife to truck driver – tell the truth about their carbon load. Hi my name is Harry, I was a truck driver for 30 years and I have lung cancer.

    Myself, I would project images of carbon useage, using carbon arc lamps, on to the icebergs. Show the two black carbon “sticks” and how they create a flame. Talk about how everyone…everyone..sat and watched movies all during the last century this way, and then…film my last show out there. A fitting end to a rather interesting career.

    Point is that people generally need to accept responsiblity and have an awareness of the impact they have and then, they need to take action to make…corrections.

    It involves admitting the carbon useage, taking a good hard look at what it has done/is doing and making changes to correct it…

    On an individual basis. Housewife to truck driver. Public service announcements. Kinda like those cigarette PSA’s that were so popular juts before most people got the point it was killing people and most people quit….except it seems they didn’t see all those PSA’s about smoking in Greenland.

    So, instead of Hi my name is so and so and I am an alcoholic, it needs to be my name is so and so and I drive a diesel truck and it produces x amount of carbon, I have lung cancer, and trucking routes have higher incidences of cancers.

    All different kinds of them, all kinds of people.

    Thank you for your courage.

  3. Giuletti

    Posted Thursday 19 Nov at 19:25 | Permalink

    A truly brave and bold artiste.