An Art Expedition to the Arctic Circle
Rovaniemi, Lapland, January 1992
Artistic Cooperation: Franz John (D), Heta Norros (SF), Jürgen O. Olbrich (D), Lieve Prins (NL)
Extract from the catalog COM TRUST, published in 1992:
The winter in the city of Rovaniemi, which lies directly on the Arctic Circle, is very long. Nature here is still pure and the snow still white. With that one can begin in any manner of ways. The two artists, Franz John from Berlin and Heta Noros from Helsinki, discovered this when they visited Rovaniemi in the winter of 1991. They both suggested the idea of producing a bond between snow (cold) and electrography.
The artists’ group COM TRUST came to Rovaniemi at the beginning of January 1992. Weather conditions in the city were observed with a great deal of tension. Will it be cold enough, is there enough snow? The COM Trust group had brought various ideas and work along. One idea was to freeze a portion of the work into ice in the museum’s courtyard. Parallel to that, the installation “COM TRUST – an electrographic expedition to the arctic circle” appeared in the museum.
Through the initiative of the Rovaniemi Cultural Department, approximately 40 Finnish soldiers helped the artists with the erection of a “snow-building” on the frozen Ounasjoki river. Everything had to be built in one night. The result was amazing, almost shamanic. The works, which had been frozen in ice, were then distributed among two rooms. The light for this public occasion on the river was donated by candles brought along by visitors. (December/January is the dark season with no sunrises on the Arctic circle)
In an opening speech, the Mayor, Matti Peltari, spoke of the meaning of such events of cooperative work between international artists.
Long after the artists had left the city. the snow palace remained and surprised passersby and Ski-Doo drivers. Hopefully the people who destroyed a few of the ice blocks understood, nevertheless, the beauty and inner fragility of the work.
As the museum director, I would like to thank Heta Norros, Lieve Prins, Jürgen O. Olbrich, and Franz John for the extraordinary event and the experiences connected to it.
Hilkka Vartiainen, Director, Rovaniemi Art Museum
The project was developed in close cooperation with the Rovaniemen Taidemuseo (Art Museum Rovaniemi), the Office of Culture of Rovaniemi and by support of the German Goethe Institute Helsinki. About 40 soldiers of the Finnish army (AUK-PL5, Rovaniemi) helped to install the ice-building on the river on a voluntary basis.
Conception of project: Franz John, Jürgen O. Olbrich