In Greek myth, there’s a place that’s so far north that it’s beyond the cold. Hyperborea (“beyond the North winds”) is a land of eternal springtime, where the flowers are always in bloom and the sun never stops shining. Recent Russian news reports claim Hyperborea actually existed on the shores of the White Sea, not far from the snowswept sites of Soviet Gulag prisons.
At this year’s Venice Biennale, Russian-born artist Anton Ginzburg takes viewers on a hypothetical journey to Hyperborea. At the Back of the North Wind is a photo series and video installation documenting his travels “beyond the Boreas” to the virgin forests of Oregon, from the run-down palaces and museums of St. Petersburg to the eerie ruins of the Gulags. Using clouds of red smoke as a metaphor for the collective unconscious, Ginzburg creates a fantastical dreamscape of a mythical place.
At the Back of the North Wind is showing in Venice at the Palazzo Bollani through November 27, 2011.