2019_Internal Seminar: Imaginary of the Arctic


Date: 06.09.2019

In this seminar WONA research group member Stephanie von Spreter gave a first sketch of her PhD project under the working title «Disrupting the collective imaginary of the Arctic through the photographic lens. Artistic research, counter-narratives and personal histories as artistic methods for recuperation and alternative world views».

The seminar was set up in two parts, one allowing for a first presentation of the project and second as feedback session allowing for open discussion regarding the shaping of the project. The starting point for the discussion was the initial objective to analyse the role of contemporary artistic production in disrupting an imaginary of the Arctic that largely derives from the heroic tales of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century white male Polar explorer. Photography and the moving image shall hereby be the focus of analysis, since it was the very same medium that played a significant role in creating a collective imaginary of the Arctic, and still does to this day. Questions discussed included: What is the imaginary of the Arctic? What contributed to the creation of an imaginary of the Arctic? What is the relationship between the polar hero and the Arctic imaginary? How does it become collective? What contributed to this – the media, literature, the moving image?

In the seminar, the WONA group also looked at the artistic practice of specific artists in relation to these questions, including Katja Aglert, Pia Arke, Tonje Bøe Birkeland, Cristina de Middel, Siri Hermansen, Judith Hersko, Isaac Julien, Ulla Schildt, Helene Sommer and Mette Tronvoll.