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Rural Projects 2015/2016 hiatus ended with the arrival of Claudia O' Steen and Aly Ogasian. While in residence at RP, Aly and Claudia expanded on their experiences at the summer 2016 Arctic Circle Residency and created the piece Farthest North.

Aly and Claudia are frequent collaborators. The pair met at RISD in the Digital + Media MFA program. Claudia is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of West Florida and Aly is an adjunct faculty member in Digital + Media at RISD. As collaborators, Aly and Claudia's work is research based and explores the intersection of art and science through first hand experiences and observations. In 2016 they were awarded an Arctic Circle Residency and traveled to Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard near the North Pole.

Farthest North synthesizes the profound psychological effect of traversing one of the most rarefied places on earth in the footprints of a failed explorer. In 1897, explorer S.A. Andrée attempted to fly to the North Pole in a silk hydrogen balloon. Andrée intended to be first to the North Pole, and planned to map the region using aerial cameras engineered for cartographic use. Shortly after taking off from the archipelago of Svalbard, however, the expedition crashed. Their remains were found 33 years later, the cause of their deaths unknown. Amongst the remains were several canisters of exposed film, preserved in the snow.

Miles away in space and time, the artists spent the better part of 2016 deciphering the topography of the arctic landscape through the flat surface of a screen, closely inspecting each pixel. That summer, Ogasian and O’Steen travelled to the high arctic, tracing the route of Andrée. From the top of a mountain, they gazed across Virgohamna, the same arctic harbor that appears in Andrée’s photographs -- below them, the remains of his balloon hangar, ravaged by the harsh climate. They had prepared physically for this voyage, but the psychological effects of being on location were profound and unanticipated.

"Rural projects offered a remarkable space for introspection and disconnection from the outside world. We spent the residency sorting through documentation and materials from our trip, designing and building sculptures, and editing videos. The pristine natural environment was the perfect place to develop a new body of work without the distractions of everyday life. The work developed at Rural Projects was exhibited at Watkins College of Art, Design and Film this January."


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