Mike Iacovone shares his exciting Arctic Circle residency experience

This past summer, MFAST alumnus Mike Iacovone (MFAST ’09) participated in The Arctic Circle, an expeditionary residency program that brings together international artists of all disciplines as well as scientists, architects, and educators. In this annual residency, participants explore remote and fascinating destinations aboard a specially outfitted sailing vessel. The Arctic Circle provides participants with the means to engage in issues relevant to our time and to develop professionally through collaborations, exhibition opportunities, and public and classroom engagement.

Mike describes the experience below:

In June I was fortunate enough to be one of 27 people to take part in a residency program on a sailboat in the Arctic Circle.

It wasn’t just visual artists—I photographed, directed, and edited a video for a musician. There was a playwright with whom I collaborated on a silent movie loosely based on Pope Pius XI’s effort to claim the North Pole for the Vatican (yes, that really happened).  There were also poets, a novelist, and a physicist who acted as our de facto Google because we were full of questions and without an internet connection.   

We all met in Longyearbyen, Svalbard  and spent a couple days getting acclimated to the 24-hour sun, then we spent 18 days sailing north and around international territory.  We latched onto icebergs, took arctic hikes onto glaciers, zipped around various bays on zodiacs.  We visited an abandoned Russian coal mining settlement, and a couple whaling outposts.  

We would sail through the night, so each day we could make land, and have the opportunities to explore and create work.  It was an incredibly motivating experience, by far the best residency I’ve been on, and probably the most interesting thing I’ve ever done.


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