The Barents Spektakel

The Barents Spektakel is Norway’s most border-crossing festival!

The festival is a cultural-political cocktail with contemporary art and music, theatre and performance, literature and architecture and seminars and debates as its ingredients – all spiced with current issues related to the Barents Region and the High North in general. The festival first started in 2004 and in February 2017 will transform Kirkenes into a Barents Metropolis for the 13th time.

The Industrial Boomerang

A new wave of industrialisation is on the way throughout the borderlands with maritime and land-based industrial infrastructure coming more into focus on both sides of the Russian-Norwegian border.  Municipal and federal governments are scrambling to build capacity, discover resources and reinvent their nations Arctic industries on land and at sea.

On the Norwegian side, the neo-industrial wave includes plans to reopen the mine in Kirkenes, a mine that will be restarted for the second time in less than a decade.  Simultaneously, there are aspirational plans in the Kirkenes harbour to create transport hubs for distribution of Arctic oil and gas to the world whilst providing expanded support for the maritime industries of fisheries and heavy maintenance.

Meanwhile, barely a few kilometres from the Russian-Norwegian border, the smelters in the town of Nikel plan to ramp up production as they process ore from northern mines across the Russian Arctic.  This growing industrial capacity in the Russian north calls for a modernisation and expansion of infrastructure; most importantly in the city of Murmansk where new highways ring the perimeter and new port facilities line the shores of the Kola bay.

With this current version of neo-industrialization in the Arctic comes increased environmental and social awareness.  Industrialists, investors, protestors and politicians all lay claim to issues of safety and sustainability.  Safeguarding operations in Arctic waters and across the tundra is the new moral code for a new industrial renaissance.

In the shadows of the northern neo-industrial boom comes further militarisation and securitisation of the Arctic.  The trans-Arctic sea routes, coastal infrastructure projects, and land-based industries require heightened security for governments thinking strategically and investors thinking financially.

Is the re-industrialization of Barents in line with re-globalization of the world?