CFAP Thomas Kneübuhler

Antennas

Medium: Chromogenic print
Dimensions: 88 x 118 cm
Date: 2014

This photograph is part of a series of eight images entitled Days in Night made by photographer Thomas Kneubühler at Canadian Forces Station Alert, Nunavut, in February 2013. CFS Alert is the most northerly, permanently inhabited location in the world, situated only 817 kilometres from the geographic North Pole. It houses many temporary inhabitants as it hosts a military signals intelligence radio receiving facility, an Environment Canada weather station, a Global Atmosphere Watch monitoring laboratory, and an airport. The station experiences polar night from the middle of October until the end of February. Photographing illuminated darkness fascinates Kneubühler, who has previously made images of barely lit office towers and mine tunnels. Here a bright red light centres a web of blue-lit communication towers and wires. Such is the level of illumination, that the stars are hardly visible. This image signifies such a diversity of human activity that it calls into question any description of Alert as isolated.



Terrain #2

Medium: Chromogenic print
Dimensions: 88 x 118 cm
Date: 2014

The ground is frozen for almost ten months of the year at Canadian Forces Station (CFS) Alert, Nunavut. Ice and permafrost meld land and sea together and fog often envelops the area. Alert is considered a hardship post, which means that people’s stay here varies from three to six months and no family is allowed. The temperature was minus 45 degrees Celsius the day Thomas Kneubühler arrived. Interested in photographing the polar night, Kneubühler responded to the variety of light he discovered: starlight, moonlight, electric light and, briefly, sunlight. Here an icy outcrop catches the sun’s rays. The extraordinary beauty of this glittering arctic scene belies its inhospitality. Without the modern technology available at CFS Alert human survival is impossible.