Current Jätkä 2
Crystal Bennes,
The Earth Is Not a Perfect Sphere
7.10. - 22.10.2017

Crystal Bennes: The Earth Is Not a Perfect Sphere

Crystal Bennes
The Earth Is Not A Perfect Sphere
Galleria Huuto Jätkäsaari, Jätkä 2
7 – 22 October, 2017

“Stuor-Oivi” (Stuorrahanoaivi) in Enontekiö (68°40’57”N 22°44’45”E)
“Avasaksa” (Aavasaksa) in Ylitornio (66°23’52”N 23°43’31”E)
“Torneå” (Alatornion kirkko) in Tornio (65°49’48”N 24°09’26”E)
“Puolakka” (Oravivuori) in Korpilahti (61°55’36”N 25°32’01”E)
“Porlom II” (Tornikallio) in Lapinjärvi (60°42’17”N 26°00’12”E)
“Svartvira” (Mustaviiri) in Pyhtää (60°16’35”N 26°36’12”E)

Since the first scientific estimation of the radius of the earth in c. 240 BC by the Greek mathematician Eratosthenes, scientists and mathematicians have sought ever-more accurate models for the figure of the Earth. As a lens with which to examine history’s changing conceptions of progress, The Earth Is Not A Perfect Sphere takes as its starting point one of these models, the Struve Geodetic Arc –
a chain of nineteenth-century survey triangulations stretching over 2,820km from Norway to the Black Sea. In Finland, the Arc partly retraced an earlier series of triangulations carried out in the 1730s by the mathematician Pierre Maupertuis,
sent by the French Academy of Sciences to conclusively determine the accurate shape of the earth.

While the original series of measurements for the Arc consisted of 258 main triangles, with 265 main station points, since becoming recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005, only 34 of the original station points have been maintained.

Carried out between 1816 and 1855 by a team led by the German-born Russian astronomer, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, the survey represented the first accurate measuring of a long segment of a meridian. The measurements helped to establish – building upon the work done a century earlier by Maupertuis to confirm Newton’s hypothesis that the earth tapered at the poles in a spheroid shape, rather than an ellipsoid shape – the exact size and shape of the planet. Of course, today these measurements, which took nearly forty years in the nineteenth century, can
be replicated in a matter of months using modern GPS satellites, thus rendering the work of Struve and his team technologically redundant, even while its importance as a cultural artefact persists.

During 2015 – 2016, the artist journeyed to the six remaining Struve Arc measurement sites in Finland, from the far reaches of Lapland to a small island in the Gulf of Finland.

This exhibition includes analogue photographic documentation of these journeys, as well as the following works created in response:

The Earth is Not a Perfect Sphere – a series of ceramic globes that chart our changing imaginings of the shape of the Earth;

A Compendium of Progress– 14 lithographic prints that compile shifting arguments for progress in Western society from 570 BCE to 2011 CE;

Monuments to Anachronistic Progress – six models for sculptures in granite sourced from sites near Finland’s Struve points to commemorate the now-redundant achievements of the 39-year undertaking.

The creation of this exhibition has been supported by Taiteen edistämiskeskus & Suomen Taideyhdistys.