American, b. 1946
Stellar Axis, Constellation 1, 2006
Archival inkjet print by Jean de Pomereu
20 ¾ x 47 ¼ in. (53 x 120 cm)
Whatcom Museum, Gift of Jean de Pomereu, 2013.17.2
Known for her sculptural installations within landscapes, Lita Albuquerque created Stellar Axis, Constellation 1 during a fellowship with the National Science Foundation’s Antarctic Artists and Writers Program. She collaborated with an astronomer and positioned 99 ultramarine spheres on the Ross Ice Shelf with the aid of global positioning satellites.
Corresponding to the brightest stars at 77° south on the day of the summer solstice at noon, the sculptures mapped the night sky that cannot be seen during the 24-hour sunlit day. Fifty-one volunteers from McMurdo Research Station staged a performance by walking from the center of the installation outward and tracing an Archimedean spiral on the ice.
A year later, Albuquerque created a complementary installation, Stellar Axis: North Pole Arctic Circle, 2007. A spiral drawn into an island of frozen sea ice also included a performance. In these two projects, the artist called attention to the beauty of the poles, the earth’s rotation, and the axis between the two poles.