Christian Houge’s Arctic Technology in San Francisco

Photo by Christian Houge.

Photo by Christian Houge.

The presence of technological installations on the isolated and sublime island of Svalbard is the focus of the Norwegian photographer Christian Houge‘s images in his exhibition “Arctic Technology”. It will be featured at Hosfelt Gallery in San Francisco until March 21.

All of the photographs from “Arctic Technology” are from Svalbard, known for its exotic arctic landscape, magical light and the cleanest place on earth for atmospheric studies. The island, located 78 North, is ideal for many types of research and communications through different types of antenna installations. Hence, the remote and pristine landscape is marked by installations of technological and scientific equipment.

Since 2000, Christian Houge has been making large-scale panoramic images in this landscape, exploring the human presence in this bleak yet beautiful site. Making reference to art forms as diverse as traditional landscape painting, the photography of Bernd and Hilla Becher, and the Land Art of Walter De Maria and James Turrell, these images provoke a meditation on one’s place in the universe.On the island of Spitsbergen is a Soviet-era coalmining town, Barentsburg, with a population of 800. Houge visited the community repeatedly and in images that do more than just document the worksites, schools, and cafeterias where the people live, has captured something of the human instinct to survive under adverse conditions.

Taken as a whole the exhibition moves from the sublime to the mundane with sensitivity and unique insight.

Mari Aarre, a Norwegian art historian, writes in the text “Arctic technology”:

“…Houges photographs can be seen as fiction based and documentary in depicting the technical constructions and their locations. At the same time there is something poetic and suggestive in this mythical nature portrayal. Combined, these perspectives create a realistic romanticism. Christian Houge’s landscape images represents something unknown – which we know.”

The exhibition has previously been shown in London, Paris and New York. The project has been funded by the Norwegian Artists Fund.


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