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A frozen weather station 800 miles from the North Pole held his father's secrets

When he was 19, aAron Munson's father spent a bleak year working at the station — so the artist decided to take a trip to there to find out what that year was like.

When he was 19, aAron Munson's father spent a bleak year working at the station — so the artist went there

Artist aAron Munson on his father's year in the cold: "Even being up there for a week you could really start to empathize with what that experience was like." 4:01

Alberta cinematographer and multimedia artist aAron Munson once read his father's diary from when he was 19 years old. In it was an entry from a year spent at a weather station near the North Pole. The words his father had written communicated bleakness, depression, even thoughts of suicide. So he decided to take a trip to the decommissioned station, called Isachsen, to find out what that year was like. 

"You'd just walk out and it would almost blow you right over," Munson says of being confronted by the snow and wind. "Even being up there for a week, you could really start to empathize with what that experience was like." 

Isachsen, the artist's new exhibition, tries to bring the feeling of being at the weather station to its viewers. Using photography, sound, video, installation and collaborations with artists David Hoffos, Dara Humniski and Gary James Joynes, the gallery space is transformed into a site that tells a story of solitude, loneliness and a strange kind of beauty. While acknowledging how dark the subject matter is, the artist confides: "It's about presenting work that demonstrates that it's OK to be vulnerable."

aAron Munson. (CBC Arts)

On Munson's trip, he left only footprints behind. What Isachsen left with him, though, was an understanding of what even a small amount of time in isolation can do to the human mind.

See Isachen at dc3 art projects in Edmonton until February 17.

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 11:30pm (12am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.

About the Author

Tamarra Canu

Tamarra Canu is an amateur filmmaker taking big steps in her career. She has recently worked on one of CBC’s The Nature of Things newest films named Vital Bonds and is now a member of another high profile documentary to air on CBC in 2019. Fun fact: she started her career at CBC News Edmonton as an Associate Producer, and is extremely proud to be staying close to home in her own craft.

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