Barents Spektakel 2019

The World’s Northernmost Chinatown

Welcome to the World’s Northernmost Chinatown!

As receding sea ice opens shipping routes to the north, and unimaginable levels of global investment revitalise ancient overland trade routes, the time is right to welcome China to Kirkenes and create a future of cooperation and prosperity.

We are living in a golden age of China. Through epic modernisation over barely half a generation, China has become the rising superpower of our time. For most who take part in the globalised economy, it seems impossible to imagine a prosperous future without first understanding and taking part in China’s rise.

But with new partnerships come both ambition and anxiety, alarming allegations of neo-colonialism go hand-in-hand with alluring promises of regional development. Nowhere is this tension more evident than in the Arctic; where optimism about new railways and shipping routes sit awkwardly alongside fears of foreign control of resources and trade routes. The future is bright, but what are the costs of rapid regional development?

How different the emerging reality is from the present is still unclear — local voices that call for pragmatic levels of sustainable development are overruled in current systems, will things be different in the ‹century of China›, or will the existing mentality of ‹my way or the highway› simply take on a new face? Is this neo-colonialism, a national sell-out or an equal partnership between ‹the new best of friends›?

During the 2019 Barents Spektakel, as a projection of a possible future reality, Kirkenes will transform into The World’s Northernmost Chinatown and a focal point along the «Polar Silk Road». Artists, experts and the community are invited to contribute to this possible future north — creating projects that play on suspicions or dispel myths, that welcome with open arms or tread carefully into the future.