Posts Tagged ‘Ny-Ålesund’

This evening, 12/14: The octogenearian, Siberian specialist, Eskimologist, Caucasian scholar, and not infrequent Moscovite celebrity, Dr. Serguei Arutiunov, during a stroll through Moscow some years ago, pointed out to me the importance of geographic positioning in the European city.

As a result of Westerly winds moving across Europe, the aristocratic- and upper-classes, in London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and as far east as Moscow, located themselves on the West End of cities, for access to the freshest and healthiest air — while the East Ends became homes of the working-classes, factories, one might say, the remainders of life passed over by the wealthy.

In this way, one can imagine the historically specific development of social and economic divisions unique to each city, based on geographic positioning — the specific languages e.g., cockney in London, forbidden liaisons between East End boys and West End girls, romanticized in movies and pop songs, and yet, a specific trend that has resulted in some rather general conclusions.

factory factoryThe geographic positioning of etiquette and form, admittedly, is a small data point, perhaps, in the development of the modern city.

Nevertheless, it was given renewed breath this evening, when curator and art historian, Ingrid Wisløff Aars, provided guidance on eighteen artistic prints by Ole Ek’s (1913-2004) titled “Akerselva fra Maridalen to Vaterland”, now on exhibit in the Fulbright office, Oslo. In the course of her introduction to these prints, which traces images reflected along Oslo’s Akerselva River, Ingrid pointed out that the West End of Oslo, was the location of the wealthy and the East End, was the home of factories and working classes.

Thus, in these two images above, the first, a projection of a print, and the second, the actual print — we see Akerselva River. We see also, the factory position on the East End of the River.

imageOne participant to the evening mentioned that the prints do not include visible persons.

And yet, in this particular image, we can see Ole Ek, the person, quite clearly. He is, literally, standing on the West side of the river, looking East toward the Factory. And where else should he position himself? After all, he is an artist, and thus, distanced from the material of labor and the enterprise.

And by definition, then, where are we located — as observers to the image?

imageWe too, are located on the West End. As in the very image above — it is an image, to borrow from the Pet Shop Boys, of West End girls, located as they should be, on the privileged, observational, conversational, side of the river.

An innovation of Ek, apparently, that the very persons, it turns out, he left absent from the prints, are actually, very much present, as observers looking over to the East. The persons of the image, are audience participants — And because the factory is a house of labor, on the East End, we can expect that the audience, located inside, observing the image, on the West End, is located in another type of house: A Salon. A Factory on one side for laborers (East End), and a Salon on the other side for observers (West End). Voilà:

salonOf course,  I could go on, but you get the message. Of other things that caught my attention this evening, in addition, of course, to the wonderful company of everyone involved (including the gløgg):

type curator print

 Curatorial practice: Script written with a type writer, then cut with scissors by hand and finally hand-pasted (no doubt using water soluble glue) to the matte.

pingpong12/14: I started my Julegløgg at Litteraturhuset yesterday, with Kåre Haage, chatting about this and that for several hours over a pig head cheese sandwich rolled up in potato wrap, like a Norwegian shawarma. Oof, did I roll him over the coals with all the speechifying I engaged in.

But Kåre is a mentor for certain, former ambassador/consular general for Norway to Russia, he took me on as I began this project looking at Norwegian-Russian border energy development, and has since provided commentary on all matter of issues.
Well, later that same afternoon, I had the opportunity to buzz over to CICERO, a strategic knowledge institute associated with University of Oslo, to have a chat with collaborator Ilan Kelman, who hails from Toronto, about whom I write in an earlier blog this past summer, when we met to discuss upcoming projects on energy development in the Barents.

And in fact, as coincidence would have it, I came back this morning to CICERO to meet with a few other folks, namely Erik Tollefsen and Pål Prestrud, to discuss my attendance at the 2013 Ny-Ålesund Symposium in May, where on the agenda, alongside attendance with heavy hitters in oil and gas industry, NGOs, government and all that good et ceteras, is a discussion about the future of Arctic oil and gas development, right up my alley.
Pål and Erik were swell. I came, blowing into town, unwrapping my intellectual wares, like a true American pitchman, they listened politely, pushed back, asked for details, crossed swords, politely, over coffee, with me burning their ears out, jumping hot foot from one topic to another, making sure comprehension remains at a minimum 85% with the remaining 15% incomprehensible as a defense to marking out my own legitimacy as an academic. We were happy.

It looks to be a good venue this year, and with proposed Helge Lund in the room, CEO of Statoil, I would get another opportunity to mingle up close and personal with folks I met in 2011 at the Oslo Energy Forum at Holmenkollen, what a spectacular roundtable that was.

I am now headed over to the Fulbright office for the julegøgg proper, homemade pepperkaker, Christmas spirit and art exhibit. Through a partnership with “Kunst på Arbeidsplassen” (Art in the workplace), Rena Levin has announced a new exhibit adorning the Fulbright office walls, Ole Ek’s (1913-2004) “Akerselva fra Maridalen to Vaterland”. KPA director and art historian, Ingrid Wisløff Aars will be on hand to  guide us through the 18 prints by Ek, which describe the scenic  and historical walk along Akerselva from Maridalsvannet down to Vaterland (near the Opera), where Akerselva flows into the sea.


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