Since International Polar Year 2007, Canada and Argentina have developed a program of bilateral and multicultural activities on polar issues called “the Polar Dialogues”. The objective of this program is to promote environmental awareness about polar issues through the arts, scientific initiatives and educational exchanges.
From August to October, 2012 the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Argentina via the National Antarctic Institute of Argentina carried out the IV International Conference and Festival on Antarctic Art and Culture: Art, Science, Community and Polar Dialogues.
The Ricardo Rojas Cultural Center of the University of Buenos Aires hosted the photo exhibition “The Accessible Arctic” as part of the program. The exhibition included a collection of images of the North from Canadian Geographic Magazine.
For this edition of “the Polar Dialogues”, Argentina invited Canada as one of the three main international partners to launch the program, which included the photo exhibit as well as the personal participation of Canadian artists Philippe Boissonet, Lorraine Beaulieu, Ken Colorado, Mary Tahan and Gérard Lacombe. These artists developed different projects – partly in the Arctic region and partly in Antarctica - whose main objective is to raise awareness of the need to protect fragile ecosystems, address climate change issues and establish strong and meaningful global dialogue on these issues through art as a creative form of advocacy. Also, philosopher Hervé Fischer from Montréal led a discussion on how the development of new technologies creates an impact in these areas and provides new tools for communication.
Canada’s Ambassador to Argentina Gwyneth Kutz joined the National Director for the Antarctica, Mariano Mémoli at the inauguration:
The Arctic reminds us that we are responsible for a treasure we must preserve for future generations and which represents 40% of Canada’s territory, where over 100.000 Canadians live. These images are a testimony of the challenges which we face with climate change on the fragile polar ecosystem, the necessity to implement sustainable management of its resources and to share our experiences with other polar countries such as Argentina.
– Ambassador Kutz
200 children public schools of the City of Buenos Aires and the Province of Buenos Aires displayed their work on polar issues as special art projects. Students from Canada School, which services a socially-vulnerable new-immigrant community, represented the Arctic in debates and workshops, as part of an ongoing programme to acquaint these students with Canadian priorities and values. At the launch, the students from Buenos Aires communicated via Skype with their peers at a school in the Argentine scientific base Esperanza in Antarctica.
This project was developed by Argentine artist Andrea Juan, head of Cultural Projects at the National Antarctic Institute in Argentina, Government of Canada fellow (FRP), CALQ fellow and 2012 prestigious Konex Foundation Award recipient. The Canadian Polar Commission once again expressed interest and support for these activities.
The two-month long programme which included lectures, workshops and exhibitions, attracted the participation of over 12.000 people from different sectors.