We are pleased to have six street artists from Russia and Norway visiting as part of the Bar International, Artist in Residency Program.

The artists have spent this week exploring the industrial, social and environmental themes of Kirkenes and Nikel while scouting locations for potential projects.

Guest Curator, MAKE (RU), believes in the importance of grass roots urban replanning and responding to communities with site specific artworks. Educated as a Sociologist, MAKE is interested in people taking charge of their urban environment, not simply relying on bureaucratic processes that can be removed from the realities of the community.

“I was really disappointed with city plan for Moscow in 2010 so I tried to use street art and different art practices to change the situation. In the last five years we did a lot of interventions, we use different mediums; DIY navigation, street signs and working with people. We installed mailboxes asking people what they want to fix in their neighbourhood, we collected the ideas and responded to those ideas.”

For their projects in the north, the artists will each bring their own unique skills, context and aesthetic when responding to the impressions generated this week. The projects particular focus will be on joining Kirkenes and Nikel through street art projects.

The cross border theme of the Residency is a concept that MAKE is inspired to work with. During his stay in Kirkenes MAKE sought out interactions with Russian teenagers living in Kirkenes and also with Morgan Alexander Ip, a PhD candidate working with the Barents Institute on a user orientated urban planning project for the Barants Region.

“I met with [a Russian teenager] who moved here 5 years ago when his father started working in a factory, it was interesting to talk to Russian teenagers who live here and get their perspectives on the town. The grassroots approach can work everywhere, DIY infrastructure is actually a way to express yourself and fix something on your own – like painting your own zebra crossing, it is an empowerment tool”

During the Residency the artists have explored Grense Jakobselv on the Norwegian Russian border with retired Border Inspector, Frode Berg, toured the open cut iron ore mine at Bjørnevatn and visited the ship refurbishment company, Kimek. They then moved across the border to Nikel for their final day at the Residency.

Residency artists are: Argus (NO), Stein (NO), Rustam QBIC (RU), Alexandr Menukhov (RU), Ekatarina Yarunova (RU), Make (RU)