Svalbard Global Seed Vault

A light installation by Dyveke Sanne (NO) illuminates the entrance to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. Although the vault lies deep inside a mountain halfway between Norway and the North Pole , Sanne’s luminous artwork ensures the vault a highly visible presence both day and night.


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  • Perpetual repercussion, av Dyveke Sanne. Photographer: Mari Tefre
  • Perpetual repercussion, av Dyveke Sanne.
  • Svalbard globale frøhvelv, Svalbard.
  • Perpetual repercussion, av Dyveke Sanne.
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About the project

About the project

Svalbard Global Seed Vault

About the project

Sanne’s artwork Perpetual Repercussion is an integral part of the vault’s entrance, which is the only part of the vault that is visible from the outside. The vault itself, which consists of three caverns blasted into the mountain, is designed to accommodate samples of up to 4.5 million types of seeds from all over the world, with seed types that are important for food and agriculture being given priority. The seed samples are duplicates of samples already held in more than 1,400 gene banks worldwide. The vault is intended to function as a back-up stock of seeds in order to guard against the risk that existing gene banks could be destroyed as a result of, for example, war, pollution or climate change.

Architects from Barlindhaug Consult, who were responsible for the design of the vault, included a 10-centimetre-deep niche in the roof and the upper part of the entrance façade in order to accommodate an integrated art project. Sanne filled this space with different sized triangles of highly polished stainless steel and other refracting and highly reflective components such as dichroic mirrors and prisms. The result is an installation that casts light in all directions. During the very light polar summer, the artwork refracts and reflects sunlight and the surrounding environment. During the long, dark polar winter, the artwork illuminates the entrance to the building more dimly by reflecting and refracting light from fibre-optic lights embedded between the steel triangles and glass components. The highly visible artwork contrasts with the almost invisible vault. Although the seed vault is embedded deep in the Arctic permafrost and hidden from public view, the luminous artwork acts as a year-round marker of its presence beneath the dramatic Svalbard landscape.

Sanne herself explains: The interior of the seed vault is shielded from public view. Even so, its contents are a reflection of certain consequences and a complexity that affects us all. The existence of the seed vault reminds us of our own position in a greater context and of the condition of the earth. The seeds are duplicates of a diversity that is an obligation for the future.

Facts

Facts

Address

Svalbard globale frøhvelv, Svalbard

Artist
Date completed

24.02.2008

Project manager

Elisabeth Tetens Jahn, KORO

Art consultant/Art Committee

Jenny-Marie Johnsen

Architect

Barlindhaug Consult AS

Building owner/developer

Statsbygg

Host representative

Arktisk frølager

Duration

Permanent

Accessibility

Limited public access

Program

Art scheme for new government-owned buildings

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