Orlova by Rachel Simmons

This tunnel book is named after the MV Lyubov Orlova, a former Russian icebreaker—now a ghost ship—that took me safely to the Antarctic Peninsula in 2008 and again in 2009. I created the scene by making a collage of elements from multiple photographs taken at various times and locations. Like a colorized postcard, this abstraction of a real experience depicts passengers from the Orlova on a zodiac tour of an iceberg bay. In the foreground, one of my cabin mates, a Tasmanian prison guard on holiday, is taking photographs of the landscape. Towards the back of the scene, the Orlova waits patiently for her passengers to return for food, warmth and comfort. The hyper-saturated colors intentionally flatten the space even as the tunnel structure seeks to deepen it, reframing the polar landscape as a theatrical stage, and transforming my personal experience as an eco-tourist into a brightly packaged commodity.

Artist Bio

Rachel Simmons is an American artist-educator who specializes in book arts & printmaking, and her diverse studio practice is informed by both environmental activism, language and personal narratives. Endlessly curious about the natural world and our relationship with it, Rachel often collaborates with scholars from other academic disciplines and communities to create new work. She has traveled to Antarctica, Iceland, Namibia, the Galapagos Islands and many of the US National Parks to research environmental issues pertaining to these projects.