Could we imagine an economically sustainable future for Vardø other than a touristic resort, business island, military base, the arctic terminal for incredible and memorable honeymoons on the ice, a diplomatic capital of the Arctic, or a financial paradise for oil companies? Is the aim of this competition to solve Vardø’s local problems, or just cover the real scale of the diplomatic partitioning of the arctic resources? We are afraid that any intervention aimed at a future development of Vardø, will become an accomplice to the Arctic ́s catastrophic fate. It could be a Trojan horse for the entire North Pole. We do not condemn urban interventions (regenerations) in general, although we are critical of this specific situation because of its extreme location. The reality is that whatever action is taken will surely change the existing Vardø and its symbolic essence as the northeast fortress of the world.
The Choice of Myth
Already this mythological role was represented in Olaus Magnus ́ Carta Marina: a description of the northern countries where the real and mythological coexisted together. The map revealed Vardø ́s lost symbolic identity. Vardø was the non-reachable port, a motivation to explore the unknown. The collective unconscious characterized Vardø as the last city of the north, populated by devils, witches, monsters and men praying to the Moon. Colonizing Vardø would correspond to the fall of Myth, to the decay of its own identity, as Odysseus destroyed the Sirens by imposing his reason on their irrational song.
Therefore, to reject the logical fate of Vardø we enhance the power of Myth. We do not expect to reverse the machine of rationality but rather to erode its internal processes by inserting a worm of doubt.
The Fortress of Vardø
Vardø’s fortress is an outpost of rationality.
Placed at the frontiers of knowledge, the fortress de- fends the limits of the kingdom, predicts new strategies and directs future expansions. There is an efficient, executive hierarchy hidden in the core of the fortress, and a precise system of control on top, under the dome. The head of the fortress is filled with books and wise scientists. As a center of progress, it plays host to intense research projects in the Arctic: on the ice melting, on the gas and oil treasures hidden under the polar cap.
On the second level, an entire society of workers incessantly produce concepts, projects, strategies, all according to the rational orders coming from the head. Strictly organized within spatial and temporal constraints, they are forced to subjugate their will and imagination to the directions received. Workers are so embedded within the rational machine that they are unable to oppose with critical judgments.
The third level is the domain of the spectacle, a society of consumerism. The veil of rationality covers the cruel intentions of capitalism. Through colored boxes and incandescent appearances, they seduce minds, destroying their autonomy, vanishing their souls.
The Egg of Doubt
The Egg is a floating piece of space, a place without a place that exists by itself, that is closed in on itself and at the same time is given over to the infinity of the sea. It preserves the odyssey of explorers. There is return in the difference, but no repetition in the identity. Myth is revealed from the Egg to the world where it is closest to the sky, through spoken narration. However, Myth is in every corner, even behind this room (it would be possible to perceive strange noises coming from a remote world just by resting an ear on the wall). In the plan, the skin of the Egg is juxtaposed to the spaces of ordinary life. The distance between the mute observance of the constraints of rationality and the awakening of the imagination is sometimes as narrow as a partition wall.
‘The Myth is dying. it is about to be defeated. There is a war between two worlds: rationality and Myth.’ With reference to Adorno and Horkheimer, The White evokes a historical and mythological dimension of the High north in the european imagination. An expedition is made beyond the Kingdom of reason to measure new territory, designating a northern odyssey in space and time between mythology and rationality. We follow the explorers’ journey and the parallel sub-stories present- ing the physiology of the myth. The expedition passes through Vardø – the north Gate to an unknown world – to prepare for encountering this vast frozen land. Through extraordinary experiences, encountering strong natural forces and by facing the reality of human limitations they return to Vardø, released from their original ability to consider the triviality of ordinary life.
The project brings a substantial amount of interesting momentum into the discussion of Vardø’s future, and ‘The Choice of Myth’. The White recognises the duality of mythology and rationality, the role they both place in driving human be- haviour and the impact of myth in the context of Vardø – a city on the border of both worlds.
Alejandra Climent Monsalve
Are we still able to listen beyond the noise of reality?
does an alternative way of thinking enable us to see yonder? Could a wise assertion of silence reveal what is out of sight? Sometimes it is possible to grasp murmurs from an egg.
Repositioning the remote
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