Auditorium, Barentsburg, Spitsbergen,Christian Houge,PhotographyAuditorium, Barentsburg, Spitsbergen,Christian Houge,Photography, detail 1 Christian Houge - Fine Art Photography [FR-ST] ::: Artistics.com
Auditorium, Barentsburg, Spitsbergen,Christian Houge,Photography
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Auditorium, Barentsburg, Spitsbergen
Description : Archival pigment print
Available dimensions
Weight : 0.5 kg2 kg
Time required : from 8 to 15 days
The number of bullets denotes the number of editions defined by the artist himself.
: blue bullet, edition available for sale founded or to be founded.
: red bullet, edition already sold.
The number of bullets denotes the number of editions defined by the artist himself.
: blue bullet, edition available for sale founded or to be founded.
: red bullet, edition already sold.
900 €2,900 €
This piece of work is already in your basket. If you choose to add it, it will automatically change the quantity. (Countries differences in VAT rates require as many invoices as expedition points).
If you choose to add this piece of work to your basket, it will automatically replace the existing piece unless if it made by the same artist. (Countries differences in VAT rates require as many invoices as expedition points).
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About the work :

Auditorium is a photograph by the Norwegian artist Christian Houge from the "Barentsburg", Spitsbergen 2000-2014 series.

The scarcely populated arctic archipelago of Svalbard has been fascinating Christian Houge for several years. During his regular visits to these northern reaches of Norway he photographed their eerie, moon-like landscapes featuring vast expanses of uninhabited land. Svalbard is covered by ice and snow during its long polar winter whilst in summer it reveals its rocky, inhospitable texture. Houge, who is particularly interested in the relationship between civilisation and wilderness has also documented economic and scientific activities in the archipelago including its scientific and communication facilities and its Russian mining communities.

 In many ways the establishment of mining settlements in Svalbard resulted from the over-inflated colonial ambitions of the Soviet Union. Russians, who have often stressed their historical claim to Svalbard, have tried to inhabit and exploit its natural resources since the 1930’s. Using the right to scientific and economic explorations to this region of Norway, granted to other countries under the Svalbard Treaty of 1925, Russia set up three mining communities: Grumat, Pyramid and Barentsburg. The energy and confidence of the young Soviet Union in its ambitious undertakings in Svalbard is evident in setting up of such facilities as a sports centre with an indoor swimming pool, a library and a museum. The harsh climate with the dwindling of coal resources followed by the decline of the Soviet state resulted in a slow decline of the settlements. The closure of Grumat was followed by shutting down of Pyramid. In Barentsburg, which once boasted a population of almost a thousand, the number of inhabitants has decreased now to merely three hundred.

 Houge’s photographs of Barentsburg and Pyramid are a study of a decline of a colonial culture, functioning away from the centre that gave these communities their ideological, social and aesthetic identity. The panoramic format of his photographs often allows him to include the hostile, surreal surroundings in which they are embedded and thus to emphasise their isolation from other settlements as well as from the mainstream of civilisation and its changing fashions.

 Many of Houge’s photographs reveal complex tensions between the ideological drive of the Soviet Empire responsible for the establishment of these settlements, with the grim reality of their decline. A good example is a photograph of a brightly coloured mural, showing an explosion of light emanating from a miner’s raised hand accompanied by a poem set in bold, Constructivist type stating, in a somewhat illogical way, the community’s mission:

The work of the coalminer provides peace and energy for space rockets.

A miner’s hardworking hand yields heat and light for everyone.

This image of heat and energy set in one of the coldest places in the world stresses the confidence that Russians had in their ability to conquer nature. However, nature has proven invincible, alluded to by a drift of snow which covering a large section of the mural, obscures the imagery of mining machinery and a space rocket. Interestingly, Houge, whose photographs often show vast, open spaces, here uses the panoramic format to promote a sense of claustrophobia and  spatial disorientation. Tight cropping of the image denies the viewer the luxury of context emphasising the surrealism of the image and its message.

The ambiguity of spatial relationships characteristic of many of Houge’s Barentsburg and Pyramid images reflects a sense of disorientation often experienced when faced with a an unfamiliar environment. His photographs reveal a haphazard topography of Barentsburg which seems to consist of isolated blocks of flats and barracks which have become buried in the snow. The absence of streets, trees, shops or cars robs the place  of its urban integrity. Lenin’s monument, an obligatory element of every Soviet town seems a lonely figure, heightening the sensation of a frozen, lifeless place.

A sense of stillness and silence pervades all Barentsburg and Pyramid photographs, whether they are expansive landscapes, or photographs of people, their workplaces and dwellings. Some landscapes are laced with a fine pattern of coal dust deposited on the vast expanse of pristine snow. Photographed in the eerie twilight of the polar winter the coal deposits are starkly contrasted with white hills on the horizon. Unlike his  Arctic Technology series, where high tech communication facilities are shown at their most flattering, Houge’s Barentsburg photographs expose the ugly side of technology. In  Arctic Technology series, a field of antennae creates a perfect, uniform rhythm of black lines against the whiteness of snow. Their equivalent in Barentsburg are low tech aerials, made from scraps of metal by miners and stuck on the roof of their barracks. 

Basia Sokolowska

Auditorium, Barentsburg, Spitsbergen

Description : Archival pigment print
Available dimensions
Weight : 0.5 kg2 kg
Time required : from 8 to 15 days
The number of bullets denotes the number of editions defined by the artist himself.
: blue bullet, edition available for sale founded or to be founded.
: red bullet, edition already sold.
The number of bullets denotes the number of editions defined by the artist himself.
: blue bullet, edition available for sale founded or to be founded.
: red bullet, edition already sold.
900 €2,900 €
This piece of work is already in your basket. If you choose to add it, it will automatically change the quantity. (Countries differences in VAT rates require as many invoices as expedition points).
If you choose to add this piece of work to your basket, it will automatically replace the existing piece unless if it made by the same artist. (Countries differences in VAT rates require as many invoices as expedition points).
A question ?

Contact our experts on +33 (0) 1 40 28 92 28

Our guarantees :
  • Certificate of authenticity signed by the artist
  • Secure payment
  • Money back guarantee (valid a fortnight within EU)
  • Delivery by specialized transporter
  • Delivery insurance included in shipping costs
  • Shipping costs based on delivery destination
Virtual view :
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