Dark Ecology

Dark Ecology is initiated by Kirkenes-based curator Hilde Methi and the Amsterdam-based Sonic Acts festival. Each year new participants are invited to present work at specific locations in the Norway-Russia border region: a region where human activity has had enormous impacts on the natural environment.

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  • "IsoScope", Joris Strijbos. Photographer: Annette Wolfsberger
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About the project

About the project

Dark Ecology

About the project

The goal of the Dark Ecology project is to find new ways of combining artistic practice and ecophilosopy. The project collaborates with partners in Norway and abroad in order to encourage new ways of thinking; establish new networks; and facilitate artistic projects addressing the issue of climate change in the Barents Region.

The three-year project started in 2014 and will conclude in 2017. The first edition of Dark Ecology took place in autumn 2014 in Kirkenes. The programme consisted of lectures, presentations of newly created artworks, guided tours, concerts and workshops. Artists presenting their work included the sound artists Signe Lidén, Raviv Ganchrow, BJ Nilsen and Karl Lemieux. Nilsen and Lemieux created the audiovisual work unearthed in the Russian town of Nikel, which lies close to the Norway–Russia border. The natural environment around this Arctic town has suffered enormous pollution and industrial degradation, although many of the worst environmental impacts – affecting the air, sea and soil – are invisible. Dark Ecology attempts to use artistic means in order to make intangible, abstract concepts easier to grasp and to give a voice to that which can be neither heard nor seen.

One of the highlights of the first edition of the project was a lecture by the American ecotheorist Timothy Morton, who is a leading figure in the growing international field of ecological critique. The project title, Dark Ecology, derives from Morton’s concept of dark ecology, which rejects traditions of nostalgic longing for untouched nature. According to Morton, the catastrophic destruction wrought by man on the natural environment – the eradication of animal species and global warming – means that we can no longer think of nature as something green and beautiful. Morton argues that we need rethink our views of nature, the place of humans in the world and the concept of ecology itself. Morton’s ideas are particularly pertinent in the Norway–Russia border region, where an apparently pristine natural environment exists in contrast with the blackened landscape around the nickel plant in Nikel, and the slag heaps and deep opencast mine at Bjørnevatn.

During 2015, artists and researchers have taken up guest residencies in the Barents Region to prepare works for the second and third editions of Dark Ecology.

The second edition will take place from 26 to 30 November 2015, and will include presentations of new works by the artists Margrethe Pettersen (NO) and HC Gilje (NO), Joris Strijbos (NL) and the composer and trombonist Hilary Jeffery (UK/DE), who will perform Murmansk Spaceport in collaboration with musicians from Murmansk and Bodø. The architect Tatjana Gorbachewskaja (RU/DE) will lead members of the public on a walking tour to explore conditions at her former home town of Nikel, in collaboration with her colleague Katya Larina. The Dark Ecology Journey will also feature lectures by the philosopher Graham Harman and the artist and researcher Susan Schuppli.

The 2015 edition of the project will commence in Kirkenes before continuing to Murmansk, Zapolyarny and Nikel. This edition of Dark Ecology will also establish a context for Sonic Acts Academy, which will take place in Amsterdam from 26 to 28 February 2016.

For more images, videos and information, please visit the project’s own website.

 

In addition to support from Public Arts Norway (KORO), the project has received support from BarentsKult, Arts Council Norway, the Creative Industries Fund (the Netherlands), the EU’s Creative Europe Programme, PNEK (Production Network for Electronic Art, Norway), Mondriaan Fund (the Netherlands), Finnmark County Municipality, Nordland County Council and Troms County Council through Norwegian–Russian Cultural Cooperation – Visual Art 2013–2015, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture.

Dark Ecology is part of the European Changing Weathers network. Three of the works have been produced in collaboration with the scholarly research project Arctic Encounters.

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