Photographer Magda Biernat at Photo-eye Bookstore
In 2013, photographer Magda Biernat sojourned at the Earth’s polar regions and captured singular images of icebergs and empty Iñupiat Eskimo hunting huts, among other things. A selection of those photos bearing the exhibition title Adrift opens at Photo-eye Bookstore (376 Garcia St., 505-988-5152), with a 5 p.m. reception on Friday, June 3.
“Average temperatures in the Arctic and Antarctic are rising twice as fast as they are elsewhere in the world,” according to Biernat’s artist statement. The polar ice is melting, and in some areas the change is “threatening the cultural identity of Native people.” The photographer witnessed melting ice firsthand during a yearlong trip with her husband, which she takes every few years. This project was called North via South and was followed by the New Yorker’s photo blog with monthly slideshow dispatches — see www.newyorker.com/culture/photo-booth/north-via-south-antarctica. In Central America and South America, the couple traveled by bus, boat, and airplane; the trip to Antarctica was aided by a successful crowdsourcing campaign. The North American segment was done by car, including driving all the way to Alaska in the middle of the winter. “Getting out of your comfort zone is always difficult, but always thrilling,” Biernat said about that trip.
“Originally I thought the icebergs and huts would exist as two separate projects, but while scanning the film [from her trusty Mamiya 6 camera] I noticed similarities in shapes of the organic and inorganic structures of both and started pairing them.” The show concept embodied “the idea of things disappearing, due to the global warming and environmental changes we are facing today.”
The Photo-Eye exhibition (through July 8) is staged in conjunction with Center, a local nonprofit dedicated to furthering the careers of photographers. Biernat, a native of Poland now living in New York City, is a multimedia artist working in both photography and video installations. Her Adrift project took first place in Center’s 2016 Director’s Choice Awards. At the end of May, she was just back from Mumbai, where she photographed the new Skidmore, Owings & Merrill-designed airport for an upcoming book.
And what’s next? “It’s been three years since our last yearlong trip, so I guess I have to start to plan the next one,” she said. — Paul Weideman
Magda Biernat: Untitled photograph pairing from the Adrift project (both details); courtesy Center