Adriana Lestido

Black Antarctica.

Juan Forn.

Every end has a beginning, Adriana Lestido believes. In that spirit she did the compulsory course to learn how to survive in an Antarctic base and took off with her cameras in search of absolute whiteness.

She was going to be lodged in the beautiful and super equipped Base. Due to bad weather and other hazards she ended up in Isla Decepción (Deception Island). The Decepción Base is a mere shack on the slope of the volcano. The earth is hot volcanic sand that melts the snow straight away. The landscape is black and grey. The only white to be had is the constant fog. Lestido and her group were supposed to travel in a Hercules jet belonging to the Armed Forces, but they ended up being sent to Beagle, in an ordinary ship, not prepared for such cold temperatures or for crossing through ice. They arrived in the middle of a storm, after a fire at the Brazilian Base nearby. The next day they were told they’re not authorized to leave the base on their own yet inside conditions are quite precarious. She had to re-plan everything. That’s how Black Antarctic, the Diaries was born to become this book.

The smoky pit fires, the sea wolves, the penguins, the birds of prey, the huge whale bones, the thickness of the coastal lagoon, the care needed to avoid the humidity and condensation ruining the lenses the grottiness inside the base, the endless walks when the weather allowed them out. The hateful guide’s orders to retreat just as the fog was clearing. A glove blown away by the wind and miraculously brought back. Singing an opera at the roaring sea, telling strangers your dreams under a dim gas lamp. To witness one morning the inexplicable disappearance of all the black hoods in the base, (only the black ones). To see it snow and the snow melt on the black volcanic sand, to see where the waters of the Atlantic and the Pacific meet. Places like Bahia Luna (Moon Bay) Playa de los Témpanos, (Icicle Beach), a mountain baptized La Chamana (Spiritual Guide): water, air, fire and earth. She wrote all that down in a handmade notebook made by convicts at José León Suarez prison where Lestido went to photograph before departing on her trip to the far south.

The guiding presence of the Werner Herzog throughout this book is no coincidence. Black Antarctic belongs to the same family as Of Walking in Ice, the diary Herzog kept on his long walk from Munich to Paris when he found out his beloved Lot Ante Eisner was dying in the French capital. It’s often said that a good story is one in which something changes between the beginning and the end. That’s what happens in Black Antarctic. "What i always ask myself is: Am I reaching the core in what I’m doing? Is what I’m doing transforming me? Is it transforming others? Can my images become theirs?”, Lestido asks herself. Einstein used to say that if our vision was good enough we’d be able to see the back of our necks when we look into the distance. I hope that happens when you read this book.