- an artistic research project

The Figure of the Guide/Guiding the Open Terrain

In recent years, media attention directed towards the Arctic has often been related to global climate changes and questions of future access to large natural resources. As such, the mediation of the Arctic is part of an image politics where struggles of attention and access are deeply entangled.

As an artist researcher at Valand Art Academy, informed by theories and practices within fine arts and visual anthropology, my project explores the relationship between planetary raw materials and the landscape-as-image, and how this relationship impacts current conditions for visual production. A particular attention is paid to skilled visions, mediating devices and exhibiting practices.

The working title of the PhD reflects a particular interest in the mediation of the Arctic terrain through a focus on the situated tourist guide, regarded as both an actual pathfinder and virtual mentor.

Thus the notion of guiding is to be understood on a literal and thematic level, but also more conceptually - on a formal level, in a spatial sense and not least as a way to speculate on how material-discursive narratives of both past and present ‘frame’ (or ‘cut’) the ontological ‘frame’ (or condition) as site-constructive and value-productive matter.

This suggests a consideration of mediation and experience as simultaneous and mutually dependent processes of the everyday, as well as a consideration of the artist role within an image-politic of geographies that are subjects to abstract legal administration and imagination.

On that note, I approach the Arctic Archipelago of Svalbard as a field of becoming, rather than as an empty, epic and frozen wilderness - which is often the case. Svalbard and its peculiar settlements is rather regarded as sets of configurations of various temporal features - from passing weather phenomena and eroding rock formations to mobile bodies and objects (miners, explorers, scientists, tourists etc, with each their skilled visions and practices, devices and imaginaries etc).

Maneuvering dialogically between participatory fieldwork, writing and experimental image-making I plan to produce a compilation thesis on the basis of three situated audio-visual works.