The Distance Between
What We Have and What We Want

Tavares Strachan

Opening Reception July 27, 2006
Albury Sayle Primary School
Rear Pavilion, Nassau Street
Nassau, Bahamas

For information contact
Joe Amrhein at Pierogi Brooklyn

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With the help of a skilled team, Tavares Strachan cut into a frozen river in Alaska under the Arctic circle to extract a 4.5 ton portion. These pictures document the extraction. This block of ice was later shipped to Nassau, Bahamas.

Extended Chainsaw __

Cutting the Ice __

Floating the Ice __

Extracting the Ice __

The Hole __

Albury Sayle Primary School

The site for the exhibition is Albury Sayle Primary, the school that Strachan attended as a child. Working outside of the traditional gallery context, Strachan's piece is experienced first and foremost by school children. The social, cultural, historical, and environmental issues that the ice project touches upon are woven through a site that embodies a hope for a better future. The motto of the school is: "Commitment Brings Excellence."

The Ice at Albury Sayle Primary __


The official flag of the show references a history of expeditions and explorers and the home that must be left to experience unknown territories. It is a rectangular flag divided into two triangles. One black with a yellow star, the other, aquamarine blue with a black "T."

Structurally, the flag is modeled after the personal flag of Admiral Peary flown on the North Pole Expedition. Symbolically, the colors refer to those of the Bahamian flag: yellow for the golden sun, black for the will and beauty of the Bahamian people, and aquamarine for the surrounding waters.

The flag in the Alaskan Arctic __

Local Weather

Nassau Airport, Bahamas


In March 2005 Strachan traveled to the Alaskan Arctic in search of a frozen river. Within several days he located one under the Arctic Circle. With the help of a skilled team, he cut into the river to extract a 4.5 ton portion. This block of ice was shipped to Nassau, Bahamas for the exhibition in July 2006, an extremely hot summer month in the Bahamas.

In transit, the ice remained within 2 degrees of its initial temperature, a testament to FedEx's unique cargo capabilities. The ice now sits in a glass freezer, which derives its power from a solar energy system. In effect, the power of the sun keeps this remnant of the Arctic intact, stable, and on view in the Caribbean. After this the work will travel for further exhibitions.

Packing the Ice __

FedEx Courier __

Flight __

Unloading __

Insertion __


Perhaps the most obvious reference in Strachan's ice project is environmental, relating to global warming and the recent recognition (or denial) of current and potential climactic changes.

The Hydrologic Cycle

Water and Energy

Global Warming and the Arctic

The Melting of the Arctic


In this work, Strachan suggests that opposites, or extremes, are actually necessary for each other's survival. Ice on the surface of the Arctic Regions helps to maintain the Earth's warm climate, and heat helps keep ice frozen. The gist of the project is to actually bring the frozen north and the hot tropics into contact, to demonstrate that they are contrasting halves of a single entity, and to then utilize the heat and light energy of the South to maintain the exact opposite condition of sub-zero temperatures. The first part of the project is about the conceptual notion of ice and heat as the poles of our environment; the second part is about the miracles of technology, which can use one extreme of temperature to produce the other.

Richard Benson, Dean
Yale University School of Art


Socially, Strachan has been working to involve communities of school children in the Bahamas through lectures, the tradition of oral story telling, and performances. The act of retracing this expedition is a way of imbedding this arctic experience into the imagination of the community. Using phenomena as a vehicle, this project involves systems of myth, and the products of these experiences are the basis for Strachan's new works that will be incorporated into later exhibitions.

Lecture I __

Lecture II __

Lecture III __

Lecture IV __

Lecture V __

Lecture VI __