In 2013 Alexis Destoop embarked on a series of travels to the border area between Norway and Russia – a counter-point with Australia: the cold and dark, snow and ocean are completely the opposite of the warm, sunny, dry desert climate. And yet both regions are subject to similar processes, hence the artist’s interest. The Far North, too, is suffering an identity crisis, as it finds itself in a schizophrenic position. On the one hand environmental changes result in a slowly unwinding ecological catastrophe that has tremendously damaging effects on the biodiversity in a region that stretches far beyond the local tundra. On the other hand, these developments clear the way for a new and broader exploitation of the region. Raw materials – oil and gas – in previously unattainable regions now become accessible to exploitation. But more importantly, the opening of the North-Eastern Searoute now links Asia, Europe and the West Coast of the United States. In recent years part of the Chinese industrial production started to transit through this route. All in all, this new situation has created a huge and ambiguous tension in the area: the ecological catastrophe that is going on, creates economic euphoria – not in the least with the local people, who used to live in poverty – and leads to territorialization and new colonialist reflexes.

All of these issues are hinted at in Phantom Sun (2017), filmed in the region of the military and industrial settlements of Kirkenes, Nikel and Zapolyarny. In this new video installation Destoop confronts the vision of the region’s future with the fading relics of its recent past. Phantom Sun is therefore divided in two parts. The first part explores the situation today and shows images – pointillistic, on the edge of darkness, as a moving painting – of a region that is getting ready for future exploitation. A utopian vision. The second, dystopian part, is a montage of digital photographs that shows a series of abandoned sites that bear witness to recent conflicts (World War II, the Cold War, the Soviet era). Somewhere between utopia and dystopia, there is reality: since 2014, as tensions between East and West were on the rise again, the region has become exemplary for the re-enactment of Cold War. Like in Kairos, Phantom Sun can be perceived as a story full of suspense. Once again, Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979), and Arkady and Boris Strugatsky’s novel that inspired the film, Roadside Picnic (1971), haunt the work. Laszlo Umbreit’s soundtrack, composed of field recordings and analogue electronics, accentuates the menacing atmosphere.

  • Color system PAL
  • Color col.
  • Year 2017
  • Duration 00:19:04
  • Languageinfo
    Spoken: English UK
  • Artists