Between July 17 and August 15 2018 I did a residency in Galleri Svalbard in Spitsbergen related to a long-running project I’m working on. Starting point for the project is an installation that I made in 2013, The Hyperborean Garden. The idea was to go deeper into themes that were raised in that particular work. Partly due to the many newsletters I got from Arctic Centre from the University of Groningen, from Artica Svalbard and the Svalbard Science Forum my focus gradually shifted from the original idea, the role of Arctic and Antarctic (boreal) myths in the world of the far right towards the effects of human behavior on the ecosystem, in this case that of the North.
I particularly liked Michel Serres reflections on the relation between nature and culture and the way he analyzes the origins of the world’s contemporary environmental problems. He does so through the proposition that our cleanliness is our dirt by which he means that our desire to possess the world by ‘cleaning’ or claiming it for ourselves and then throwing the consequent dirt and detritus beyond the bounds of what we deem ‘propre’ has brought about the ruination of ourselves and our world*.
* Sacred Dirt by Susan Stewart, a review of Michael Serres book Malfeasance in Los Angeles Review of Books
Many thanks to: Jan Martin Berg, Stephan Linden en Daria Khelsengreen (Galleri Svalbard), Maarten Loonen (Universitair hoofddocent Arctische Ecologie en manager Nederlands Arctisch Station in Spitsbergen), Rudolf Denkmann (Alfred Wegener Institute, Ny-Ålesund) and CBK Rotterdam for their financial support (O & O bijdrage)