Barentsburg is the name of an old Russian mining town, situated on the northern archipelago of Svalbard, Norway. Throughout my years of traveling I have yet to find a a greater juxtaposition of old versus new….or west versus east.
It is a testament to a forgotten time, marked by collectivism and the legacy of Karl Marx.
Contemporary vs. old expressions
It is said that becoming a successful publisher requires us to have a deep understanding of the past, along with the present. History shapes our thoughts and ideas, while serving as an important reminder of what once was.
The arid, desolate and freezing environment of the Svalbard Archipelago is a stark reminder of our common history, and the quest for dominance in the western hemisphere.
On one side stood the Soviet Union, gobbling up most parts of eastern Europe. Pitted against the U.S. and other post-war western democracies.
Incredible change has taken place since the war ended. Yet, Barentsburg feels like a time machine. A place the world forgot, where time froze and darkness encroached.
How do we define art?
Art is said to be the expression of one’s own feelings, interpreted through the lens of strangers. But what about our surroundings?
Can a deteriorating building from another place and time be of similar artistic value? I would dare to say the answer is yes.
Barentsburg is brimming with art. Decades old murals, statues and paintings are littered throughout the city. A real life example of what once dominated the eastern half of Europe.
As publishers we need to see and interpret information from different angles and perspectives. This is no different…
Yes, the soviet era monuments may appear grotesque to those who value free speech, due process of law and democratic norms. However, it serves as a fascinating piece of history that deserves to be preserved for future generations.
From the statues of Lenin to the rumbling waves hitting the shoreline, Barentsburg will remain a living example of a long lost era. A time capsule, preserved for future generations.
I encourage anyone to travel, before it’s gone…