Dark Ecology Journey 2015

Research journey into the northern extremes

26. - 30. November 2015
Northern Norway and Northern Russia

The second edition of the art and research project Dark Ecology begins in Kirkenes in Norway’s northern extremes and travels via Nikel to Murmansk, Russia. Dark Ecology is a three-year art, research and commissioning project, initiated by the Amsterdam based art organisation Sonic Acts and Kirkenes-based curator Hilde Methi, in collaboration with Norwegian and Russian partners.

Photo: Tatjana Gorbachewskaja


The border area between Norway and Russia has fascinated travellers for centuries. Nowadays the combination of rapid Arctic sea ice loss, the hunt for natural resources, the pristine nature and the industrial pollution sets the debate and forces us to rethink the extreme North. After a tremendous first edition, Dark Ecology 2014, the programme for 2015 includes lectures, presentations of newly commissioned artworks, conceptual tours through Nikel, concerts, and a Critical Writing Academy, which took place last October.

Finally, the event sets the tone for the Dark Ecology-inspired Sonic Acts Academy, which takes place from 26 - 28 February 2016. Sonic Acts Academy offers a dense weekend programme at several locations in Amsterdam.


The Journey

On Thursday, 26 November, the journey starts in Kirkenes with a keynote lecture by American philosopher Graham Harman, entitled Morton’s Hyperobjects and the Anthropocene. In the afternoon there are presentations of new commissioned works. Margrethe Pettersen (NO) created Living Land, a soundwalk that will take participants above and below ground in Kirkenes; Joris Strijbos (NL) constructed IsoScope, a major kinetic light and sound installation that interacts with its environment.

On Friday, 27 November, the programme crosses the border to Murmansk, the largest Russian city above the polar circle. Dark Ecology partner Fridaymilk hosts a talk show with amongst others presentations by Margrethe Pettersen, HC Gilje, Joris Strijbos, and Tatjana Gorbachewskaja.

The third day, Saturday 28 November, of the journey also takes place in Murmansk, starting with a keynote lecture Material Evidence from Disputed Arctic Sunsets to Dark Snow by Susan Schuppli. This is followed by two performances of Murmansk Spaceport, a new work by Hilary Jeffery developed in collaboration with local musicians from Murmansk and Bodø.

On Sunday, 29 November, the programme starts off with an exploration of the couleur locale of Murmansk. In the afternoon and evening, the journey heads back to the Russian border zone, and HC Gilje will present a video installation at the stadium in Nikel and a light intervention in public space close to Zapolyarny.

On the final day, Monday 30 November, the programme will take place in the Russian factory town of Nikel. Here Tatjana Gorbachewskaja, in collaboration with Katya Larina, presents a conceptual tour and an interactive map to explore the materiality of her former hometown and the journey will conclude with a closing panel.

See full programme.


Program highlights


Susan Schuppli: Material Evidence from Disputed Arctic Sunsets to Dark Snow

Susan Schuppli

Susan Schuppli is UK-based artist and researcher, Senior Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths.

In her work she examines media artifacts that emerge out of sites of contemporary conflict to ask questions about the possibility of transformative politics. In her Dark Ecology keynote Schuppli introduces a new operative concept, that of the ‘Material Witness’. In her lecture she focuses specifically upon the ways in which the transformations brought about by industrial pollutants and global warming are creating new material witnesses out of the chemistry of sunlight, ice and snow and explore the ways in which these emergent toxic ecologies might operate as evidential agents that can testify to contested events.


TIME: Saturday 28 November 11:30-13:30
PLACE: Aurora Cinema, Murmansk


Graham Harman: Morton’s Hyperobjects and the Anthropocene

Graham Harman

Graham Harman is a Professor at the American University in Cairo, a founding member of the Speculative Realism movement, and chief exponent of object-oriented philosophy.

For his lecture, Harman will consider the similarities and differences of the terms ‘hyperobjects’, coined by Timothy Morton, and ‘anthropocene objects’. The concept of Hyperobjects refers to entities that are so vast in spatial or temporal scale as to exceed the usual dimensions of a human life. By contrast, Harman describes anthroposcene objects as entities that require human beings as one of their components, even if they are not exhausted by human access to them. While hyperobjects push ecology toward the priority of the non-human, the anthropocene might seem to do the opposite. Harman will subsequently continue his lecture by considering the intellectual implications of both terms.


TIME: Thursday 26 November 10:30-13:30
PLACE:  Samfundshuset Kirkenes, Norway



The artists’ Dark Ecology residencies take place between September until the Journey. Please see documentation of the ongoing residencies here.

The ruins of a military radar dome near Titovka. Photo: Dark Ecology Residency Justin Bennett & HC Gilje


About Dark Ecology

Dark Ecology is informed by the idea that ecology is ‘dark’ (as the American theorist Timothy Morton has argued), because it invites – or demands – that we think about our intimate interconnections with, for instance, iron ore, snowflakes, plankton, and radiation. Ecology does not privilege the human, it is not something beautiful, and it has no real use for the old concept of Nature. What we now know about the impact of human beings on the planet has led to the need to rethink the concepts of nature and ecology, and exactly how humans are connected to the world.

Though these issues are relevant anywhere in the world, they are especially pertinent in the Barents Region with its pristine nature, industrial pollution and open-pit mining. Speculation on global warming fuels local economic growth, as the prospects for both the exploitation of the oil and gas reserves below the Barents Sea and the trade through the Northern Sea route are rising. Disparate interests and approaches from both sides of the border have to negotiate. This interaction informs the Dark Ecology project and is a starting point to invite artists and theorists to develop new approaches and new works.

If the Dark Ecology project is completely new to you, this is the best introduction to the project. You can follow the project through Facebook or vk. Take a look also on the third and last edition of Dark Ecology Journey, June 2016.


Dark Ecology 2015 (teaser) from Fridaymilk on Vimeo.

More on Dark Ecology: www.darkecology.net

More on Sonic Acts: www.sonicacts.com


Looking back: Dark Ecology 2015



Dark Ecology Journey: First Report by Arie Altena

"During these long periods of darkness, life slows down and offers room for introspection."

Road to Murmansk

Road to Murmansk, Dark Ecology Journey 2015. Photo by Lucas van der Velden


Living Land – Below as above, at the Arctic Encounters research blog

A conversation between Margrethe Pettersen and Britt Kramvig

“I am a water plant – Blærerot – Utricularia vulgaris – I am rootless and floating around. During the cold and dark days I leave the surface shaped like a ball and sink to the bottom of the lake – I call it my home. It is nice to save energy, you should try it – at least slow down.”



View Dark Ecology 2015 Journey in Flickr
View images on Dark Ecology 2015 Residencies
Images on Dark Ecology 2015 Commissioned artwork



Ràdio Web Macba's Objecthood #4 exploring some of the recent theories on new concepts of objects in contemporary philosophy and art.

Living Land – Below as above, a commissioned soundwalk by Margrethe Pettersen, where participants were led on a sound exploration on a frozen lake.



Dark Ecology Journey Trailer 2015. Produced by Fridaymilk.

Dark Ecology 2015 from Sonic Acts on Vimeo.






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