The Remains: Part 2

Deception Island, Whaler’s Bay, Antarctica

In 1906, a whaling station was established on Deception Island in Whaler's Bay. Over time, several hundred men arrived at the station during the Antarctic summers.

This settlement was the only successful shore-based industry ever to operate in Antarctica. A cemetery built in 1908, a radio station in 1912; a hand operated railway also in 1912, and a small permanent magistrate's house in 1914. The cemetery, by far the largest in Antarctica, held graves for 35 men along with a memorial to 10 more presumed drowned. In early 1931, the factory finally ceased operation, ending commercial whaling at the island entirely.

Today it is abandoned, and the only inhabitants are the penguins and seals.

  • antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/1600, ISO: 320)

    Scattered in the volcanic sand on Deception Island, South Georgia, are the remnants from what was once a very lucrative whaling oil industry. Norwegian Hektor Company ran the operation here from 1911-1931.

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  • antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/1600, ISO: 320)

    Abandoned whale oil storage tanks are standing markers from a time when the whaling industy was at its prime in the early 20th century.

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  • antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/800, ISO: 320)

    Rusty detail of a ladder mounted on a whale oil storage tank, Deception Island, South Shetland.

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  • antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/320, ISO: 320)

    A sharp rectangular cut into the side of a old whale storage tank, opening up for a view of the volcanic sand, Deception Island, South Shetlands.

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  • antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 9, Shutter: 1/2000, ISO: 320)

    Far away from home, two Norwegians have been laid to rest, one of them the carpenter from the old whaling station on Decption Island, South Shetlands.

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  • antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/2000, ISO: 200)

    Clad in snow, the old Norwegian whaling station stands as a marker from a time of prosperity and slaughter, Deception Island, South Georgia.

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  • antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 5.6, Shutter: 1/2000, ISO: 200)

    Abandoned steampunk boilers on Deception Island, South Shetland, used to extract oil from the whale bones.

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  • Antartica

    Cotton Coulson & Sisse Brimberg

    Antartica

    α6000, E 24mm F1.8 ZA, (F-Stop: 6.3, Shutter: 1/800, ISO: 200)

    In Whalers Bay, bleached wooden barrels and other artifacts from 20th century whale hunters sticks out of the black sand, Deception Island, South Georgia.

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The Remains documents the contrast between the abandoned Norwegian whaling settlements in South Georgia and Antarctica and the fragile Antarctic landscape. The series looks back to a time in history when the whaling industry was fulfilling humanity’s thirst for oil.

The lonely and abandoned structures speak to us about the harsh life the whalers endured and the pain the industry caused to numerous species of whales, sometimes pushing them to the brink of extinction.

Now, the visceral brutality of the industry has been washed away by time and nature. In this series, Cotton and Sisse depict what remains, a landscape of buildings and remnants in an isolated and remote environment.

The resulting series is quiet and contemplative, asking the viewer to consider the aesthetic qualities of the deteriorating objects in front of them, while also asking wider questions about history, purpose, and permanence in the Antarctic habitat.

The Remains: Part 1, South Georgia; Grytviken and Stromness

 

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