New Cold War

This project examines the ongoing geopolitical transformation of the Arctic and focuses on the indirect consequences from climate change. A once-impenetrable polar ice cap is slowly melting, eventually exposing natural resources and shipping routes to exploitation and sparking a race to claim territorial rights in the Arctic.

The decades-old Cold War frontline from Alaska through Canada and Greenland has seen a significant level of military activity. Unsurprisingly, such claims have been accompanied by military mobilization throughout this region. Countries that border the Arctic such as Russia, the United States, Canada, and Denmark—and some, like China, that don’t—are eager to lay claim to its rich and increasingly accessible resources.

Desires and subsequent efforts to assert territorial claims in the Arctic have induced countries such as Canada to engage in what they call "Sovereignty Operations" to assert ownership and project military power on specific sections of northern geography. There are now multiple annual military exercises in the region using thousands of military personnel to lay claim to and create a security zone surrounding the North Pole.

Arctic Passage

Over the course of four years, the photographer Louie Palu made more than 150,000 photos in the high Arctic. In March 2019, Palu created an installation as part of the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival in Texas in which some of the Arctic photographs that appear here were encased in massive blocks of ice that were then placed outdoors so that the ice would gradually melt, exposing the images.