The collages reconfigure images of exploration and colonialism at the North and South poles and underline the geopolitical strategies at play in these regions. Historical images are juxtaposed with contemporary views, and narratives are interrupted by colour gaps. Their making involves cutting together/apart the entangled events that have shaped polar spaces and the anthropocentric ideologies that have engendered the current environmental crisis. Abandoned explorers’ tents, resource extraction, and altered migrations are a few examples of the material consequences of human and non-human relations. In some pieces, cut-outs are lifted from the page, casting shadows that alter the fractal geometry.
Jessica Houston has traveled from pole to pole—using objects, oral narratives, photography, and painting—to evoke entanglements among colonialism, globalism, and the current environmental crisis. Her projects often include site-specific oral histories that amplify the memory of a place and evoke land as a living process. She has worked on projects involving communities and their relationship with their environments in the Canadian Arctic, Antarctica, Greenland, Iceland, and Italy. Houston has created site-specific works for the New Jersey MOCA (Asbury Park), the Castello di Corigliano (Puglia, Italy), Governors Island (New York), and the Albany Airport. Her works are funded by the Canada Council for the Arts and are in the collections of Prêt d’œuvres d’art, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec; Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec; Bank of Montréal; and the Consulate General of Monaco in Montréal. She has been invited to the Josef & Anni Albers Foundation Residency, CAMAC Centre for Art, Science and Technology in France, and Skagaströnd in Iceland.