In the main town of Svalbard (Longyearbyen) there is only one small emergency hospital. Svalbard is only for the living; there is no death and no one gives birth.When people are 65 they are obliged to go back to the mainland of Norway. Also pregnant women go back, three months before delivery. What you do see are older graveyards; where they buried the workmen that died in mining accidents. This is one of those in Longyear. – Sandra
I photographed this space because it reminded me of ‘the kept house’ (het Behouden Huis) which the explorer Willem Barentsz. built out of the wreckage of his ship to survive the harsh winter in 1596. You still find a lot of wooden huts on Svalbard; scattered over the islands, in case a traveler or hunter gets stranded, there is always a place to be safe from the snow and polar bears. – Sandra
Photos taken at Pyramiden, the most Northern Soviet-town in the world. Deserted since the 80’s. The statue is also the most Northern bust of Lenin in the world. The hand with fire I found in the deserted gymnastics building, where they used to play indoor soccer. – Sandra
‘We mogen alleen naar buiten met een gids met geweer. We zijn de enige twee gasten in het hotel. Er is geen douche. Er wonen hier 10 mensen. Er landt hier 1 keer per maand en helicpoter uit Rusland met eten. En ik ben niet bang. Het is allemaal te behappen, je krijgt het in stapjes, in stukjes toegediend’. Maureen
‘I tried to google Svalbard, to find what the town looks like. Google maps really sucks on Svalbard. You can’t really see anything. Then I sort of gave up. Let’s just see when I come here. The nature surprised me with all of these rocks.’
Lea Steinhovden, student Arctic Nature Guide
‘There is one big difference with other small communities, people are happy to be here. They come here out of free will, they chose to be here. They are looking for adventures, being in the wilderness and the feeling of freedom.’
Stein Henningsen, performance artist
‘Even when in Antartica I was dreaming of Pyramiden, I wish I could come back. I like Svalbard in general. I think it is the most beautiful place in the world. It is this cold, cruel beauty, very attractive.’
Aleksandr Romanovskiy, geologist
‘For me, it was and still is one of the most outstanding places. First it is Arctic. I like Arctic. Coalmining is always interesting. Third it is abandoned place. Abandoned place in the middle of Arctic with a lot of history.’
Vladimir Prokofiev, guide
photo by Sandra
With every journey, there is a soundtrack that belongs to it. It can be one song, or an entire album, something new or old and forgotten, but somehow, suddenly, fitting in the landscape and atmosphere of your destination.
The soundtrack for this trip to the Arctic turned out to be the EP Shock of Daylight, by The Sound. I found this record in 2002 in the recordstore where I was working at the time. Which wasn’t long after the singer of the band, Adrian Borland, committed suicide in 1999. Shock of Daylight was made in 1984, a year after I was born in 1983. So far the numbers and whatever they may mean.
De EP was well reviewed by the press; as all albums of The Sound. But not very well sold; as all albums of The Sound, at least not in those days. The band was praised for being the missing link between Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen, but if you ask me they actually invented ‘a league of their own’ in the eighties. And now Shock of Daylight falls right into place here in the Arctic.
The picture I made at night. With black curtains the people here try to keep out the sun and pretend that it is night. But it’s unmistakably still day out there. The title of the photograph is ‘The Longest Day’. With much thanks to The Sound for providing the soundtrack for this one day, that lasted a full month.
Here you can listen to the entire record: http://youtu.be/m1rVDJC0bs4
Sandra van Egmond
One question that arises is why some people left the mainland for an uncertain, isolated and risky existence in Svalbard. There were several reasons, but the desire to live freely, the dream of adventure and the hope of the big haul were prabably the greatest driving forces. Helge Ingstad writes that the reason ‘had to do with the primitive instincts in man and the need for freedom.’ (Svalbard museum)
Uitnodiging Expositie 2.0
Om ons werk volledig tot zijn recht te laten komen, hebben we besloten de expositie ‘Koude Kust’ te verplaatsen. Het nieuwe adres is Buikslotermeerplein 13, Amsterdam
Nieuwe locatie = nieuwe flyer = nieuwe opening!
Op 8 juni bent u van harte welkom tussen 12.00 en 18.00. Kom (opnieuw!) langs voor een drankje en een hapje van de boerenmarkt, die op zaterdag voor onze deur staat. Wij zitten aan de kant van de V&D, naast het Chinese restaurant ‘Wok King’. Ook geven wij een workshop voor kinderen op 9 juni in de Noorderparkkamer.