Mel Chin (American, b. 1951)
The Arctic is Paris/L'arctique est Paris, 2015
The Alfond Collection of Contemporary Art at Rollins College, Gift of Barbara '68 and Theodore '68 Alfond. 2019.2.15
Mel Chin is an American contemporary artist whose body of work spans a large variety of media, including painting, drawing, book arts, photography, film, installation art, and digitally immersive augmented reality programs.
This work, entitled The Arctic is Paris, follows the Inuit hunter Jens Danielsen in the streets of the French capital. He is pulled on a sled by a group of French poodles as he discusses—via voiceover—a huge problem looming on humanity’s horizon: the subject of climate change. The film was the result of a large crowdfunding campaign originally launched on Kickstarter that raised almost $30,000. Rewards to donors from the Kickstarter campaign included headshots of the French poodles in the film, woodblock prints of polar bears and other natural ephemera from the Arctic, and Arctic land melt water presented in sealed bottles, furthering the artist’s interest in climate change and its global implications. Additionally, Chin offered a sculptural carbon sequestering briquette, made from white oak, as a reward on Kickstarter. The sculpture references a conceptualized approach to reversing climate change known as the “biochar” method. Through it, organic material that is not being used for food is turned into charcoal briquettes, which are then buried or mixed into soil. This permanently sequesters carbon that the material contains so that it will not be released as carbon dioxide, a known greenhouse gas.
Chin and the creators of the film have launched a project called “The Arctic is your Hometown” through which they hope to spread awareness about global environmental issues.