spiral with a constant diameter like a strand of DNA.
Albuquerque visualized this helix as a metaphor for information passed down over time, whether through the light of stars
or through our genes.
She enlisted the help of Simon Balm, an astrophysicist who
had worked previously at the South Pole. Simon had the math
skills and >eld experience to transfer the positions of the stars
into an accurate con>guration on the ice. The artist and astrophysicist were joined by photographer Jean de Pomereu, >
lm-maker Sophie Pegrum, and cinematographer Lionel Cousin, all
of whom would document the event but also help install the
spheres representing the stars.
Their preparations took more than two years. In order to pull
o= such a large project in the Antarctic, it was necessary to
obtain the support of the National Science Foundation (NSF),
which administers America’s science operations on the ice as
well as projects by visiting artists and writers. Albuquerque’s
challenge was to piggyback her team and materials onto the
existing stream of supplies for the scientists. It’s a cost-e=ective
strategy for the government, relatively friendly to the environment, but a nightmare to implement.
For example, Albuquerque’s spheres had to be manufactured so that they could be packed in halves, both so they
would >t in the available cargo and so they could be reassembled solely by her team under the challenging conditions on
the ice shelf. Then snow anchors had to be devised so that
the spheres would not blow away and violate Antarctic Treaty
provisions regarding waste on the continent. In fact, the NSF
required her to subject the spheres to 110-mile-per-hour winds
in a test tunnel.
On December 7, Albuquerque and her team, along with a
gaggle of scientists, arrived at McMurdo aboard a cargo jet.
After a week sorting their gear—and completing the survival
courses required before being let loose on the ice—they headed
out with the >rst of their six crates of stars. The NSF had
assigned them a four-hundred-foot-diameter plot out near the