The melting Arctic is the subject of photographs — and an ice-bound one-day installation


Louie Palu is an award-winning photographer and documentary filmmaker who, on assignment for National Geographic, made numerous trips to the Arctic to capture how the rapid changes to the region due to climate change.

On March 12, Palu will install a series of his Arctic photographs that will be frozen in large ice blocks and displayed on the plaza in front the Harry Ransom Center on the University of Texas Campus. Over the course of the day — from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. — the ice blocks will melt, slowly revealing the images.

Palu’s “Arctic Passage” installation considers the evolving geopolitics of the Polar region, the history of the Arctic, its connection to the Franklin Expedition and climate change.

“Arctic Passage” is part of the SXSW Art Program — and it’s the only one of the seven SXSW installations that’s actually free and open to the public. No expensive SXSW badge needed.

At 4 p.m. Palu will discuss the context of his installation and his experience photographing in the Arctic with Jessica S. McDonald, the Ransom Center’s Nancy Inman and Marlene Nathan Meyerson Curator of Photography and and Sadie Quarrier, senior photo editor at National Geographic.

See event details for “Arctic Passage” here. The Ransom Center is located at 200 W. 21st St.

With more than 5 million items, the Ransom Center’s photography collection is one of the finest and spans the history of the medium, including the earliest known surviving photograph, a unique image created in 1826 or 1827 by the French inventor Joseph Nicéphore Niépce.

Some of Palu’s National Geographic photographs can be seen in “Scenes from the new Cold War unfolding at the top of the world” Militaries are scrambling to control the melting Arctic.”

Palu has been a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow and a Harry Ransom Center Research Fellow in the Humanities. He is well known for his work which examines social political issues such as human rights, conflict and poverty.

Recently, Palu posted a small, test version of his forthcoming “Arctic Passage” ice block photograph to his Facebook page.

Louie Palu,


Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
Jeanne Claire van Ryzin
An award-winning arts journalist, Jeanne Claire van Ryzin is the founder and editor-in-chief of Sightlines.

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