168° 58’ 37” W: A Cold War Memorial

This text is a material conduit, or vehicular medium, through which to imagine a work of art located on a stretch of intermittently frozen sea ice in the Bering Strait, at 168° 58’ 37” W. This ‘work’ is offered as a memorialisation of the consequences of collectively imagined fear—in this case the Cold War. Its ephemeral material existence—somewhere between this page and an expanse of sea ice located elsewhere in space and time—also seeks to perform something of the mutual insufficiency of material and contextual elements in artistic expression more generally. Before proceeding, it is important to concede that I have never physically visited the Bering Strait; instead, this work was produced using a laptop, the limited infinities of web-accessible literature, and web tools such as Google Maps. Yet, despite not having physically visited the location, I am more than reasonably convinced that it materially exists. I also believe that this location’s historical, political and aesthetic significance can be augmented through the imagination to build a work in the mind. In short, this text is an invitation to project your thoughts towards a small but significant stretch of water in the North Atlantic Ocean.


Image: Gregory Slobirdr Smith, Little Diomede, 1996, photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

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Dr Sean Lowry is a Melbourne-based artist and writer. He holds a PhD in Visual Arts from the University of Sydney and is currently the Head of Critical and Theoretical Studies in Art at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. Lowry has exhibited extensively, both nationally and internationally, and his published writing appears in numerous journals. His conceptually driven practice employs strategies of concealment, subliminal quotation, erasure, remediation and intermedial expansion to explore the outermost limits of the world of a work of art. He is also Founder and Executive Director of Project Anywhere (projectanywhere.net), and one half (with Ilmar Taimre) of The Ghosts of Nothing (ghostsofnothing.com) (seanlowry.com).

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