The wild Russian artist and boat captain, Alexander Ponomarev follows his bold dream to create the first Biennale in Antarctica. His vision is an expedition: a convergence of international artists and visionaries in a paramount icy backdrop, which catalyzes creation and opens a unique space for debate about the future of humanity and responsibility towards the planet.

In a borderless continent, at the beginning and end of all meridians, lunar landscapes replace curated pavilions, ascetic cabins replace luxurious suites and silence and purity replace hype and distraction. We embark on a voyage with 100 celebrated transdisciplinary artists and scientists as they carry out ephemeral installations on shore, giving Antarctica an artistic and cultural voice for the first time. In creating a biennale at the edge of human activity, the voyage culminates in an explosion of consciousness; the realization that the Antarctic waters directly reflect distant human activities’ impact.

Guided by Ponomarev’s deep poetic voice, Captains Dream confronts contemporary visionaries to an engaging challenge: how can their artistic voices awaken the wider public to share responsibility? In our current paradigm, how can humanity collaborate to maintain peace and preserve nature in shared spaces? It all begins, as the artistic crew strives to build a legacy without leaving a trace.

The Expedition

Instead of the usual national pavilions, the artists had the icy inaccessibility of the Antarctic continent. Instead of pompous apartments, ascetic cabins. Instead of chaotic creative wanderings, a conjunction with Nature and explosion of consciousness through discussions with scientists, futurists, and technological visionaries.

The 1959 Antarctic Treaty assures Antarctica belongs to no individual or nation, its use is reserved exclusively for peaceful scientific research. It is owned by all humanity, however it is already affected by distant polluting activities. If all the ice caps melted, the sea level would rise 60 meters; a worrying prospect for a region that contains 90% of the world’s fresh water.

After years of planning and against all odds, Alexander Ponomarev and his team finally launch the first Antarctic Biennale. This courageous event invites the arts to interact with science to create a multidisciplinary reflection about humanity’s role in shared spaces. The highly ambitious endeavor faced disbelief and criticism, but now that the quasi-impossible logistics are in place, the real challenge lies ahead: Ponomarev brought artists, philosophers and researchers to the purest, whitest canvas ever to exist, now they must interact with it.

The participants endure tempestuous passages, harsh conditions and strict guidelines; any contamination of the land, puncture of their vessels or accident on deck could mean the end of the expedition. The artists take the greatest precautions in a merciless environment, each approaching the Antarctic canvas from a unique perspective. Philosophical implications develop in the silent white stupor that surrounds them: what is the relevance of art on deserted shores?

What material homage can you create for a place that needs nothing? How do they handle the privilege of being in Antarctica, and their responsibility to report back to the public sphere?

Each art project carried out on land is thoughtfully created to mark the minds and not to leave a trace. Joaquín Fargas’ Glaciator with a quixotic task calls for immediate action, Tomás Saraceno’s team rethinks transportation without dependency on hydrocarbons, Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck use provocation to confront humans to their actions, and Yto Barrada and Shama Rahman honor nature’s senses using color and music. Finally, Ponomarev himself, produces the ultimate artistic gesture; the encounter with this continent leads us all to see this fragile giant needs a voice.

More about the expedition here

Captain’s Dream – A film by Denis Delestrac

Denis Delestrac (born in France, 1968) is an award-winning film director. He is best known for creating feature documentaries on highly topical subjects, which have provoked public debate and gained large recognition internationally.

In 2009, he signed “Pax Americana”. The theatrical documentary examines the origins and today’s reality of the militarization of space. It received numerous accolades and led Denis to his next film “Sand Wars”, an epic eco-thriller unveiling a disturbing fact: after water, sand is the most consumed resource on Earth and the world’s beaches are disappearing.

“Sand Wars” has won a Gold Panda, the Greenpeace Prize and a Gemini Award – among another 20 awards -, placing Delestrac as one of Europe’s most bankable non-fiction directors.

In acclaimed “Banking Nature”, he investigates how the same banks and institutions that provoked the 2008 meltdown are now seeing biodiversity and endangered species as the next financial Eldorado.

In his recent film “Freightened”, he reveals the perils of freight shipment; an all-but-visible industry that holds the key to our economy, our environment and the very model of our civilization.

Insightful, engaging, and stylish, Delestrac’s documentaries consistently reveal important aspects of our world that are hidden in plain sight. His storytelling anticipates our curiosity at every turn, and satisfyingly leads us through his sophisticated perspective without condescension or hand-holding. Riding a careful edge between journalism and point of view filmmaking, he is respectful toward all his subjects, and often gains unprecedented access, resulting in unique stories with powerful warnings.

Official Website

Alexander Ponomorev – Commissioner of the Antarctic Biennale

Alexander Ponomarev is a multidisciplinary artist; nautical engineer and experienced submariner; Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres of France; Member of the Russian Academy of Art, and Global Thinker (so named by Foreign Policy magazine).

Alexander was born in Dnepropetrovsk (USSR, Ukraine) in 1957. In 1979, he graduated from the Odessa Higher Engineering Marine School. Worked as a naval officer on submarines and ships. After that he devoted himself to art.

Over 30 years, he has organized more than 100 artistic projects, exhibitions, and events. His projects have taken place in some of the world’s most remote oceans, the Arctic, the Antarctica and the Sahara desert.

In 2014, with support of the AVC Charity Foundation, Alexander Ponomarev established the first supranational pavilion — The Antarctic Pavilion — in Venice.

Ponomarev’s artworks are in the permanent collections of the Louvre Museum (France), the New National Museum of Monaco, the National Museum of Contemporary Art Georges Pompidou (France), Zimmerli Museum (USA), the National Museum of Singapore, the Louise T Blouin Foundation (Great Britain), the Museum of Contemporary Art of the Grand Duke (Luxembourg), the State Tretyakov Gallery (Russia), the State Russian Museum (Russia), etc.


Written and Directed by Denis Delestrac

Assistant Director Isabel Andres Porti
Photography Jordi Esgleas
Second Camera Unit Nikita Kozyr
Edited by Alam Raja
Narrated by Lena Kolbe

Additional Photography Nico Muñoz
Production Services 16Nou
Post Production Director Jordi Mir
Post Production Manager Alejandro Matus
Sound Editing and Mix Leo Dolgan
Colour Grading Ignasi Gonzalez Insa
Post-Production Moonlight Cinema

Producers Anna Rierola
Piergiorgio Pelassa
Marco Agnolin
Foundation Quo Artis

Distribution by Java Films


Festivals and Awards