The Mobile Oasis Project
Thanks to LWC and Oddveig Saetereng
The installation plays with the idea of a camel as a mobile machine, providing drinking water to desert travellers. In a broader sense, it also refers to the commercial way in which humans treat nature and the mythification of exotic animals. The work is taking two Mongolian camels living on the remote Norwegian island of Sørøya as a starting point. During a residency in the Arctic Circle, I was surprised witnessing the surreal presence of two Mongolian camels, in the middle of an arctic and snowy landscape. Although this seems like the last place where a camel would belong, the animals deal very well with the cold, harsh environments, since it can get to -40 degrees in the Mongolian desert. The surrealism of the notion of camels in the Arctic is caused by the stereotypical way in which we learn about these animals; a camel is always strolling through the desert in children books, and his humps are filled with water which accompanies him on his long trip. They are, in the minds of most people, inevitably connected with the hottest places on earth. It so may come as a surprise that they do not even originate from these regions. Long before camels roamed the desert, new evidence suggests that they lived in the frozen wilds of northern Canada. Scientists discovered camel fossils on the island of Ellesmere, which has the same latitude as Spitsbergen.
A camel hump withholding water is nothing more than a myth. The camel stores fat in them; up to 35 litres in each. This fat is vital for surviving in harsh weather conditions; which apply to both the Arctic as the Gobi desert. Sticking with the fictional idea of water being inside the camel hump, imaginary the animal becomes a walking oasis.
exhibition documentation by Stefanie Schaut at KRIEG Gallery Hasselt (BE)
‘1 liter of melted ice extracted from the hump of an Arctic camel’