Artist and composer Voldemārs Johansons from Riga (Latvia), together with cinematographer Māris Maskalāns and a supporting film crew, have just finished their production residency in Svalbard. The group started their research and filming in Longyearbyen, travelling as far as the only two roads can get you – one towards Bjørnedalen, and the other towards Mine #7. In between, the group met with researcher-philosopher Kim Holmen from the Polar Institute, artist Olaf Storø who specialises in lithography, performance artist Stein Henningsen and visited the institutions Artica Svalbard, Galleri Svalbard, Svalbard Museum and Nordnorsk Kunstmuseum.
Visiting Barentsburg felt like a relieving contrast to the touristic Longyearbyen and we were lucky to join the Open Day at SvalSat that brought immediate associations with a kind of Arctic Kin-dza-dza. The site includes over 30 satellite antennas inside geodesic domes perched on a windless, virgin-snow-covered mountain top. The trip to the station on a bright, sunny day was maybe the most breath-taking experiences of the journey … that is until the artists set off on an amazing multi-day journey on the ship “Farm” with Captain Stig Henningsen. The journey took the group to Tempelfjord and then to the north in Kongsfjorden and Ny-Ålesund.
During the voyage the artists reported back excitedly describing the journey;
“We walked on ice 4.5 km to the Glacier! We have seen polar bear footprints! Our boat trip was truly indescribably beautiful! Waters were calm (no sea sickness), sun was out playing with clouds on glaciers, springwater streams were under the masses of ice, bubbling. We recorded the sounds of bird colonies, and inside the 5000-year-old glacier, and underwater world with seals singing like mermaids! We filmed underwater icebergs floating, several glaciers, hills, rocks, flows of water. Captain Stig took us to places we wouldn’t believe we could access. And we were so lucky with the weather!”
To top off the incredible residency, the group filmed for seven hours in an ice cave.
Postproduction lays ahead and we look forward to the premiere of Voldemār Johanson’s work at Barents Spektakel 2018!