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Od kláštera Osek na Selesiovu výšinu, k Lomu, Libkovicům, Hrdlovce a zpět/From The Osek Cloister to Lom and back
By Samotar, 27 September 2015
By ll, 25 September 2015
Upside-down on Earth
The journey led north. “North” keeps shifting. For residents of Oslo, north is somewhere in the middle of Norway, in Trondheim. For residents of Trondheim it is somewhere in Alta, and in Alta it has shifted even further to the north.
Kautokeino. This is where our expedition starts, although residents of Oslo rarely make it this far. This is the land of the original Sami. Here, the map is turned upside-down. It is a land of reindeer herders and fishermen, with an average of 0.3 residents per square kilometer. When, thanks to a presentation by Ole Johan Gaup, we learned more about their history, culture, and current traditions, I began to see confirmation of how far our contemporary way of life is removed from theirs. Things that have always been natural suddenly strike us as eccentric. Is it cold? Start a fire and cover yourself in reindeer skin. Are you hungry? Kill the oldest reindeer. Feel like a treat? Make yourself some reindeer blood pancakes (we tried some). Want to take your dog for a walk? Go ahead, but be careful that your dog isn’t carried off by an eagle. And so on.
I feel like I’m on a different planet. I am amazed at the local awareness and natural respect for nature, which is something all of us should possess. I learn that reindeer paws are soft and adapted so that when the animals take a step, the weight is spread out and the plants bend only slightly under their weight. Reindeer are also have no front teeth, so that when they chew something they only nibble on it gently with their gums. Nature is loved here, and the dependence on nature is more than clear. And its disturbance through resource extraction which seriously impacts the original environment stands out in even greater contrast. The landscape of abandoned mines in Kautokeino resembles the landscape of another planet on which nobody expects to find life any more.
Cut. We are traveling further north towards one of the last places on our expedition – Kirkenes on the Russian border. In this region, the latest technologies are used to mine iron ore, oil, and natural gas. Every year, the waste products from this wealth of resources – on average, two millions tons of toxic waste – are “inconspicuously” deposited at the bottom of the sea. As a result of this mining, the landscape here is upside-down not only on land, but also beneath the surface of the ocean. A mining pit becomes a mountain, and a mountain of waste is transferred to the bottom of the sea. Contaminated fauna and flora. Why doesn’t anyone stop it? Again, I am amazed at how people can forget their original relationship to nature. Again, I feel like I’m on a different planet, a planet of inverted models of behavior.
Not far from here in Games, an expansive territory not near the Kirkenes airport, the Nor Terminal mining company has decided to start drilling for oil and gas. However, the first exploratory drilling unexpectedly came up with prehistoric stone carvings, and so it had to be stopped. Maybe, in an instinctive act of self-preservation, the planet has begun to defend itself. The exciting question arises: Can prehistoric paintings stop mining? If only art could be used as a defensive weapon.
My plan is to exhibit a series of photographs and video sequences that are directly inspired by this question, by the motif of “inversion/reversing,” and by presenting people’s relationship to the Earth through the eyes of “an extraterrestrial”. The individual shots – close-ups as well as full landscapes – combine to form a mosaic of various places in the north of Norway. They do not make any direct reference to specific locations, instead presenting a general view of the Earth as seen through an inverted hierarchy of values and a reversed polarity of interest. One important aspect when creating the visuals will be the question of time in the sense of duration and temporariness – the landscape is shaped over the long term, and this temporality influences man’s relationship to it. Despite this, other people treat the landscape with so much energy and with such short-sightedness that they seem to be working against time in leaps and bounds.
For me, the expedition’s name “Frontiers of Solitude” took on new meaning after having taken part in it. I found myself on the boundary of a rupture in space-time. The original person remained standing and the landscape all around was shifted in time and in space.
I see the photographic series and video sequence as the ideal medium for capturing this inversion, flowing, and stoppage of time.
Field Work and Ecology
This expedition through Iceland will lead participants to various locations in the South, East and North of Iceland where the untapped sources of renewable energy – water, steam, and wind – as well as the impacts of hydro- and geothermal power plants on the landscape and on local micro-economies, can be observed.
We will visit the largest rockfill dam in Europe, Kárahnjúkar dam, as well as the aluminium factory for which it was built, and the affected river systems. The construction of Kárahnjúkar dam (2003-07), and the political process leading up to it, have been the subject of extreme controversy in Iceland. Under the current government, plans for more hydroelectric mega-dams are under way. They promote an intensified “harvesting” of the country’s large number of free-running rivers and promise cheap "green" energy – with the aim of attracting investors, multinational corporations, and energy-hungry heavy industry to Iceland.
Participating artists will meet with experts from other disciplines and will be introduced to the ecological, political and socioeconomic aspects of the sites visited. The program intends to feed into a critical and informed debate about case-specific ecological and socioeconomic co-dependencies, and about the means and ends of renewable energy production and energy consumption.
10. Aug: Arrival of artists in Reykjavík/Keflavík Airport
Travel by car to Akureyri
11. Aug: Travel along the north coast to Lake Myvatn, geothermal landscapes of Krafla, through the northeast to Dettifoss nad waterfalls Egilsstadir
12 Aug: Afternoon meeting at Skaftfell Center for Visual Art, talk by Markús Þór Andrésson
13 Aug: Visit to Skálanes Nature and Heritage Centre, Seyðisfjörður
14 Aug: Site visit to Reydarfjördur, tour to Alcoa Aluminium Smelter
15 Aug: Site visit to Kárahnjúkar hydroelectric dam in Eastern Highlands
16 Aug: Site visit to Lake Lagarfljót and Heradsflói Estuary
17 Aug: Return to Seyðisfjörður, evening meeting at Skaftfell Project Space, sharing of visual material, observations, thoughts, open to the public
18 Aug: Travel along south coast to Reykjavík, (Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon, glacial estuaries, geothermal greenhouses Hveragerði
Accommodation at SÍM (Association of Icelandic Artists)
19 Aug: talk by Andri Snær Magnason, and evening screening of "Dreamland" movie, based on his book Dreamland, discussion on the planned projects and impressions of the participants
20 Aug Departure day from Reykjavik
Participants: Pavel Mrkus, Diana Winklerová, Greg Pope, Ivar Smedstad, Karlotta Blöndal, Finnur Arnar Arnason
Organisation: Julia Martin, Tinna Guðmundsdóttir
Documentation: Lisa Paland