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Mind the Map!

On Wednesday evening Her Majesty The Queen attended the opening of Barents Spektakel 2011 annual arts festival in Kirkenes. Under the slogan “Mind the Map!” the festival raises the question: where is the centre and where is the periphery?


The answer depends on who is doing the seeing and the vantage point from which they are looking. There are many ways to look at a map and this year’s cross-cultural arts festival seeks to highlight distance as more than just a physical phenomenon.

The participants of Barents Spektakel come from countries both in and outside the Barents region, and activities are centred around bridge-building and knowledge exchange. The festival represents a popular and important meeting place for arts and culture. This is the eighth year the festival is being organised. In 2010 more than 13 000 visitors participated at the various festival events.

The Kirkenes Conference

For Queen Sonja the day started with the opening of the Kirkenes Conference 2011. The conference is a part of both the Barents Spektakel festival and the Barents Days 2011 event, and focuses on politics, economics, industry and logistics in the northern areas. The conference was officially opened by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development Liv Signe Navarsete.

Festival opening

The Barents Spektakel 2011 festival itself was formally opened by the Queen on Wednesday evening in the Kirkenes town square. In her speech Queen Sonja spoke of future opportunities for closer cooperation between Norway and Russia:

“The year 2010 was an historic year for Norway and for the border region here in the north. The treaty on maritime delimitation and cooperation in the Barents Sea and the Arctic Ocean opens up opportunities for broader, more effective collaboration between Norway and Russia on the future development of the region,” the Queen said.

The German theatre company Theater Titanick performed the opening show, a production entitled “Furnace Symphony”, in which industrialisation in the north is symbolised by machines and pipes breathing out music and columns of fire. The furnaces and pipes are transformed by the Titanick orchestra into musical instruments to create a blend of rhythm, flame, machinery and fireworks.

Arctic Score

Cross-border cooperation was also the theme of the opening concert. The Queen attended the musical production “Arctic Score” in which the traditional music of Russia, Norway and Finland is combined with acrobatics and sport. The result is a symbolic fight in which three countries and three cultures meet on the Arctic battlefield.

Mind the Map!

The festival exhibition Mind the Map! was opened by Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Støre and Norwegian Border Commissioner Ivar Sakserud at the stroke of midnight. The opening took place outside where Norwegian artist Morten Traavik’s mobile installation BORDERLINES is on display. Old Norwegian and Russian border posts have been placed throughout the centre of Kirkenes, dividing the town in two. The “border” is monitored and streamed using two web cameras.

The opening ceremony continued inside the AMFI Kirkenes shopping centre. Queen Sonja received a guided tour of the Mind the Map! exhibition, where the border theme is taken up once again in the works of Italian artist Stefano Cagol and Russian artist Olga Kisseleva.

The Queen was also given a tour of the “Surviving the future” exhibition, produced by the Sámi Artist Centre, and the Nordnorsk Kunstnersenter (North-Norwegian artist’s centre) presented the project NEWS (North, East, West, South).

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