The Arctic Circle
First presented as a work-in-progress performance in 2011, Cold Edge is the part-journalistic, part-lyrical narrative of Urszula Dawkins’ participation in The Arctic Circle international artist residency in 2010; in which 20 artists sailed the coasts of the high-Arctic Svalbard archipelago in a 100-year-old, ice-class sailing ship, the Noorderlicht.
From Svalbard’s tiny Norwegian coal-mining town, Longyearbyen, to its Russian counterpart, Barentsburg, and then northward into absolute wilderness and to within 600 miles of the North Pole, Cold Edge describes a sublime landscape shattered by the harsh reality of the voyage, both documenting an incredible journey and questioning the traveller’s relationship to a much-fantasised and idealised beauty.
A note for listeners:
At the beginning of the video, I mention the tiny research station of Ny Ålesund, as though it’s the only settlement on Svalbard. As my Arctic Circle blog explains, this isn’t so – what you’re hearing is the second half of a sentence that begins with “Apart from two very small mining towns…”