Magdalena Jetelová

Iceland Project

»ÈIceland ProjectÇ« by Magdalena Jetelová.
Magdalena Jetelová
Iceland Project
Medium / Material / Technic
Black-and-white photography, silver baryta paper mounted on aluminum

Concealed in marine waters, the Mid-Ocean Ridge is the most extensive chain of mountains on Earth, stretching nearly 65,000 km. Discovered in the 1950s and still a mystery to scientists, this crustal mosaic consists of interlocking plates that converge, diverge, or slide laterally from one another. Part of the evolving geography is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a 15,000 km long shelf hidden in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean forming a rift valley. This invisible boundary, known as the undersea intercontinental divide of Iceland, demarcates where the landmasses of Africa-Europe and America were torn apart millions of years ago to form continents.

Czech-German artist Magdalena Jetelová, whose sculptura-architectural works recurrently take up the motif of transcending borders, went to the Icelandic countryside in the summer of 1992 to depict this geological seam. 350 km en route in a jeep with her team, the artist used a computer for mathematical precision to mark the course of the invisible divide on a map.

In the polar gloom of night and with no spectators present, she then had leveraged laser beams draw the geological divide. A red glowing line trailed the profile of the fissured landscape, scaled lava massifs, and disappeared in the mists of the geysers.

Unlike land artists, who brought graphic elements into the vast dimensions of wilderness (Robert Smithson, Walter De Maria, Michael Heizer), Jetelová creates relationships between the undersea architecture and the Earth’s surface. Her photo-documented light art performance evoked linear configurations of temporal and spatial continuity.