Northwest Passage (Clock)

Craig Stecyk
Northwest Passage (Clock)
Clock, sheet steel, neon tubing, and oil, 1989
36 inches diameter
From the Stuart and Judy Spence Collection, donated April 1999 by Judy and Stuart Spence
1999.004.087

Northwest Passage (Clock), a piece of Craig Stecyk’s 1989 installation with the same name at Meyers/Bloom Gallery in Los Angeles, references the search for the legendary passageway between East and West that captured the imagination of western man for almost five hundred years. The title has an ironic twist, as it refers both to man’s attempts to conquer the world for his own gain and to the slow disappearance of migratory birds. Migrating birds are no longer able to find a natural route northwest to their ancestral breeding grounds because man has destroyed that passage. Ironically, in a recent Los Angeles Times article, writer Kim Murphy points out that due to global warming, the passage has become navigable: “The fabled Northwest Passage, linking the Atlantic and Pacific across the top of Canada, saw periods of ice-free navigation in 2007 and 2008. Forecasts anticipate 120 or more largely ice-free transit days a year by the century’s end. And last year’s record-breaking ice melt for the first time opened both the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage, above Russia, for several weeks.”